9 killed in police firing, Tamil Nadu CM announces ex-gratia


Thousands gathered to protest this morning, which marked the 100th day of a months-long movement.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the deaths of several people in police firing during protests against the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu a "brutal example of state sponsored terrorism".

The agitation against Sterlite Copper, which represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited, escalated in February this year after the company announced the expansion of its unit in the coastal city of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu.

They started hurling stones at the police and also overturned a vehicle after which the police lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, they said. The state government, he added, "has become the stooge of the Sterlite industries".

Police say clashes broke out as a huge crowd of protesters stormed district government headquarters.

People in Toothukudi are demanding the closure of Sterlite copper smelting plant alleging that it was polluting the area, and leading to severe health problems among the residents of the locality, besides depleting the water table.

"To bring the violence under control, under unavoidable circumstances, police had to take action". The Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam (Traders Association) has called for an indefinite shutdown across Thoothukudi.

An inquiry commission will be set up for investigation into the incident, said reports. Meanwhile, opposition parties, led by DMK, were quick to attack the state government for its failure in handling the issue.

The protestors have reportedly pelted stones at the police after which the latter resorted to firing leaving at least nine persons dead and 20 injured.

The party in its statement said, "The peaceful protest by the people of Tuticorin against Sterlite, demanded justice was ignored by the Governments. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured", he posted on Twitter.

Earlier, Mint had reported that Chennai Solidarity Group, an NGO, had alleged that Sterlite had obtained clearance without conducting a public hearing as prescribed by the Environmental Impact Assessment notification. The application has been rejected for want of more clarifications after the state pollution control board found that the factory has not fulfilled some of the major factors including non-submission of a detailed ground water analysis, action not taken to dispose waste and not building a compound wall to arrest water mixing in the nearby river.