'Facsist police': In TN's Tuticorin, anti-Sterlite protest turns violent

'Facsist police': In TN's Tuticorin, anti-Sterlite protest turns violent

"Since the government did not take any steps in this regard, the people launched today's massive rally.police attacked people indiscriminately and opened fire on them which is condemnable", Stalin said. Protesters who marched to the Thoothukudi Collectorate against the expansion of the Sterlite Copper plant owned by Vedanta limited were stopped by barricades put up by the police. Police barged into a hospital where some of the youth took refugee after hurling stones at the police.

The state government announced a compensation of Rs10 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased, Rs3 lakh for those with serious injuries, Rs1 lakh for minor injuries, and government jobs for the family members of the deceased.

The police, who tried to control the protesters, initially lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to baton charges.

Many were injured in stone-pelting by the agitators, who also set some vehicles on fire.

"I was grieved to know nine persons were unfortunately killed in this incident", he said, and expressed his sympathies and condolences for the families of those killed.

However, the police confirmed only one death and denied opening fire at protestors.

One of the deaths occurred near the district collectorate, where hundreds of residents had gathered even though the administration had imposed prohibitory orders in view of the scheduled protest.

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State minister D Jayakumar in a televised address on Tuesday said police have fired on protesters and that it was "unavoidable".

DMK working president M.K. Stalin condemned the police action, saying the state government should have sorted out the issue earlier through talks with the protesters. Meanwhile, a peaceful protest was also held against the plant near the old bus stand of Tuticorin.

Police said Section 144 of CrPc had been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it as per the orders of the Madras High Court. "People of Thoothukudi need not worry", Tamil Nadu Director General of Police TK Rajendran said, adding that the police are trying to find out if the protestors died in the firing or in stone pelting. "Since protesters indulged in violence, the police had to resort to firing to bring the situation under control", the government statement said.

Palaniswami says a retired judge would inquire into the Thoothukudi police shoot-out.

More than 2,000 police personnel were deployed across the port town and in neighbouring districts.

The plant, which can produce 400,000 tonnes of copper a year, has been shut for more than 50 days and will remain closed until at least June 6 because the local pollution regulator will not allow it to operate due to alleged non-compliance with environmental rules.

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