Anti-Sterlite Protest: One Killed in Clashes With Police in Tamil Nadu

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Nine people have been killed on Tuesday during a protest held in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin, demanding a ban on Sterlite Industries, in wake of the pollution emitted by the plants.

MDMK founder Vaiko, who led many anti-Sterlite protests, denounced police action, calling it "codemnable", and flaying the AIADMK government for it.

Following a gas leak in March 2013 in the plant, the then chief minister, the late J Jayalalithaa, ordered its closure, following which the company moved the National Green Tribunal against the state government, it recalled.

The 100th day of the Sterlite protest took a violent turn after local cops opened fire against protestors leading to the death of ten protestors and injuring of over 50 others. A large number of protestors who managed to enter the collectorate overpowering police pelted stones damaging window panes of the office building and set on fire several government vehicles and employees two-wheelers.

The area around the Collectorate resembled a battle-zone with the protesters setting vehicles afire and attacking policemen with stones.

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Almost 3000 police personnel have been deployed under four Additional Superintendents of Police and 13 Dy SPs to bring the situation under control, official sources said.

Thousands of local residents have been protesting for more than three months against the Sterlite copper smelting plant and its reported expansion but complained that the state government had not responded to their demands.

Sterlite Copper, the company at the centre of the controversy, now operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city.

Section 144 of CrPc has been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it, police said, in compliance with a Madras High Court order.

Defending the police action, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters that entering the Collector's office and resorting to violence was not acceptable.

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He said Chief Minister K Palaniswami was "concerned " over today's incidents and discussed the matter with officials.

DMK Working President MK Stalin blamed the State government, which had failed to find a solution to the problem. Police retaliated in a bid to bring the situation under control.

Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, who recently announced their entry into politics, have also expressed solidarity with the protesters.

Several shops in this town, Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram remained shut in support of the protest, according to the police. The protestors included activists and villagers from Kumarattiyapuram village who have been opposing the plant for over two decades as the water in the area has been contaminated due to the plant's operations. He said there was no point in putting up a plant near residential and agricultural zone.

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