'Nine people have been confirmed dead, ' said police official Kapil Kumar Saratkar. The villagers and residents in Thoothukudi are demanding then closure of Sterlite copper smelting plant that generated pollution and led to severe health problems among the residents of the locality. The protesters threw stones at the collector's office, Mr Palaniswami said in a statement. Other sources said around 60 victims were under treatment at the GH here and around 20 police personnel, who suffered injuries, were admitted to a private hospital.
Over 4,000 police personnel have been moved to Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu from nearby districts to bring the situation under control. The protests escalated after the company announced the expansion of the unit.
"Entering the office and violence is not acceptable. firing [opening fire] became unavoidable", fisheries minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai, formerly known as Madras.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami defended the actions of the police saying that the cops resorted to firing only because the protests had turned violent. Other reports say that police took aim from vantage points on roofs of buildings too.
They not only pelted policemen with stones but also set on fire their vehicles as well as those parked in the collectorate.More news: Palestinians ask ICC to probe alleged Israeli human rights crimes
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Police said almost 5,000 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. He said an inquiry commission would be set up to probe the incident and promised government jobs for family members of those who were killed. Police units have been rushed from Madurai and Virudhunagar to bring the situation under control.
"9 people killed during the protest held in Tuticorin demanding ban on Sterlite Industries, in wake of the pollution created by them", the news agency ANI reported. Protesters alleged that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice. As hundreds of protesters defied prohibitory orders on the 100th day of their agitation and allegedly attacked the District Collectorate, the police resorted to firing. "My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured", he posted on Twitter.
The government underlining its pro-people commitment in the Sterlite issue, assured them further legal action would be taken, "respecting" their feelings.
Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, who recently announced their entry into politics, have also expressed solidarity with the protesters. "Tamil Nadu Government should take the responsibility for the loss of life, and violence in Tuticorin".