10 killed as anti-Sterlite rally turns violent in Tamil Nadu

The Asian Age.  | M. ARULOLI

India, All India

The protesters toppled & torched over two dozen vehicles in parking space of the revenue dept office, prompting the police to open fire.

Smoke rises from burning vehicles after a violent protest demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit entered the 100th day in Tuticorin. (Photo: PTI)

Thoothukudi: Ten people, including a woman and two minors, were killed on Tuesday in police firing on violent protesters seeking closure of Sterlite copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi in south Tamil Nadu over pollution concerns.

Starting from “Our Lady of Snows” church in the coastal area, around 20,000 people marched to lay siege to the district collector’s office, violating prohibitory order under section 144 of Cr. PC.

The angry protesters toppled and torched over two dozen vehicles in parking space of the revenue department office and smashed window panes of buildings, prompting the police to open fire that killed nine people. An 11-year-old school boy succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

Later, mob of fishermen joined the protesters who tried to target a senior police official.

“We were forced to fire because there was an intelligence input that they were marching to the residence of the district superintendent of police,” a senior officer said.

Those killed in police firing were identified as Jeyaraman, Kandhaiah, Glaston, Venista (16), Tamilarasan, Kartik (11), Shanmugam, Vinitha (29), V. Antony Selvaraj and Maniraj.

After police firing, the protesters left the collector’s office but turned their wrath against families of Sterlite employees in the residential quarters — Thamirai — and burnt around 25 cars and two wheelers.

The mob fury did not spare the state-owned buses parked in Thoothukudi old bus stand. According to police, around 32 buses were damaged.

Initially, women protesters were in the first row and the police could not take harsh action as they moved forward. However, as the number of people in the march  increased, the police attempted to stop the them at VVD traffic signal on Palayamkottai main road. At this point, some protesters pelted stones at the police, who ran for their safety.

Around one-km away, 50 policemen led by Tirunelveli district superintendent of police Arun Sakthikumar unsuccessfully tried to stop the procession from marching towards the district collector’s office by firing tear gas shells.

The firing of tear gas triggered mob fury leading to attacks on the police. Three of the policemen were severely injured as the mob surrounded them and attacked them and managed to reach the collector’s office.