Sterlite plant protests leave 9 dead

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Almost 5,000 people demanding closure of the Vedanta group-owned plant went on the rampage over pollution concerns, clashing with police, and setting vehicles and public property on fire.

On Tuesday, the 100th consecutive day of the protests demanding closure of the plant, over 20,000 people gathered and marched towards the Thoothukudi collector's office, though collector N. Venkatesh had imposed Section 144 in the area. Police said almost 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.

Chief Minister Palanisamy, who also holds home portfolio, announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of the deceased, and ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

The protesters allege that the plant would pose severe health threats, including chronic diseases like cancer, and also cause damage to the soil and the environment in Thoothukudi.

"Vedanta shall cease construction and all other activities on-site proposed Unit-II of the Copper Smelting Plant at Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) with immediate effect", the order from the Madras high court said.

Madras High Court issues interim stay on expansion of Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi
Anti-Sterlite Protest in Tamil Nadu: Fresh Firing Leaves 1 Dead, Three Injured

Tamil cinema celebrities reacted strongly to the incident. That's because of the inefficiency of the government. "The government should pack up and go", NDTV quoted DMK leader Sarvanan as saying. The National Human Rights Commission also issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary and the state police chief, and asked for a response within two weeks, ANI reported. Congress president Rahul Gandhi termed the killings a "brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism".

On Tuesday, police reportedly first fired teargas shells and carried out baton charges to control the protesters. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice.

On Tuesday, protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police as they stormed the district government headquarters and an apartment block for Vedanta employees, the police and a company official said. Several protestors were injured.

"We must know who ordered this firing".

"This statement is like shedding crocodile tears", says Fathima Babu, one of the organisers of the Anti Killer Sterlite People's Movement.

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