MAC: Mines and Communities

At least 17 citizens mowed down by police in Tamil Nadu

Published by MAC on 2018-05-22
Source: New India Express

They were protesting against the Vedanta copper plant

With thousands of residents impacted by the operations of Vedanta/Sterlite's copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, their protests have now led to further demonstrations, and resulted in at least 17 people (sic), including an eight year old girl, being shot dead by police, according to reports from within India.

An earlier one of these, published by the national newspaper, New India Express, is reprinted below.

This month, the company was served with an official notice declaring the plant  to be illegal.

Notwithstanding this, the authorities have retaliated with wholly disproportionate violence against citizens.

Sterlite protest UPDATES: With death toll at eight, Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami says Thoothukudi police were forced to open fire

Law and Order ADGP was rushed to Thoothukudi in addition to the battalions from Manimuthaaru and Madurai being called in to control the situation.

New India Express

22 May 2018

THOOTHUKUDI: The 100th day of the Sterlite protest took a violent turn after local cops opened fire against protestors leading to the death of eight protestors. The protesters were on a rally towards the district collectorate campus opposing Sterlite Copper unit, despite section 144 being clamped in the town area.

CM (Chief Minister) Edappadi Palaniswami says, "Around 20,000 people marched towards Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi and torched police vehicles and vehicles parked inside collectorate. They also pelted stones on collectorate. Since the protestors indulged in violence, the police had to resort to firing to bring the situation under control."

Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam condemns Thoothukudi shooting - "The protests against the Sterlite plant were taken lightly by the Tamil Nadu government and that attitude is the reason for today's unfortunate events. The citizens are not criminals. They have always been dying, first because of the plant now because of the government's attitude. Everyone please stay calm," the party said in a press release.

12 protestors (including women) seriously injured, all of whom have been taken to a nearby hospital.

As the mob refused to disperse the cops used tear gas to disperse the protestors near Sterlite employees residential quarters

Two police jeeps were set on fire and more than 10 police vehicles damaged in the violence

In retaliation, angry protestors set Thoothukudi Collector office premises and the quarters of Sterlite employees on fire.

Law and Order ADGP was rushed to Thoothukudi in addition to the battalions from Manimuthaaru and Madurai being called in to control the situation.

The police reportedly opened firing again at 12.50 p.m. As the entire situation unfolded the mob manhandled a freelance photographer's camera and snatched the memory card.

Owing to the Anti-Sterlite campaigners' call for a massive protest against the operations of copper smelter here, several hundreds of protesters rallied to the collectorate campus here on Tuesday. Most shops in Thoothukudi town had downed their shutters accepting the strike call given by Thoothukudi town central traders association.

District collector N Venkatesh issued prohibitory order section 144 in view of the scheduled protest, while granting permission to protest only at the SAV ground near Thoothukudi old bus stand.

Paying no heed to the imposition, the public started gathering at Madathur, St Lady of snows church and other conjunctions to march towards collectorate demanding to stop operation of the copper smelter.

Over 4,000 police personnel from the nearby district have been deployed to prevent crowding proved futile, as the protesters at various areas breached the barricades and marched forward towards the collectorate.

At Madathur, police had to resort to a mild lathi (wooden stave)  charge at Madathur to disperse the public gathering. The protesters gheraoed (hemmed in) police vehicle at VVD signal while on their way to collectorate.

A large number of protesters marched towards collectorate, the police hurled tear gas in order to bring the situation under control. A section of protesters managed to sneak into collectorate. However, police resorted to lathi charge to drive them away, said sources.


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