Nine people were killed in Tuticorin city of Tamil Nadu by the police firing this afternoon where months-long protests for the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit over pollution concerns turned violent. As per the reports, agitators clashed with the police, prompting it to open fire in which a man was killed, officials said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami has ordered a judicial inquiry into incident.
Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town, about 600 km from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.
Police said nearly 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking a out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.
Initial pushing and shoving soon led to violent clashes, after agitated locals began hurling stones at police and overturned a vehicle. Security personnel used batons and burst teargas shells to break up the protest.
Many were injured in stone-pelting by the agitators, who also set some vehicles on fire. Windscreens of some government cars were smashed and bank premises were attacked by the rampaging mobs.
As the violence spiralled, police opened fire, which lead to the death of nine of people.
Meanwhile, a state minister said though the government appreciated the sentiments of the protesters, police firing had become “unavoidable”.
“Entering the collector’s office and (perpetrating) violence is not acceptable…. (police) firing became an unavoidable,” Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai.
Reinforcements have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy. Some senior officials have also been despatched from Chennai to the strife-torn town to assess the situation and take measures to restore calm.
(With inputs from PTI)