Nine dead after Tamil Nadu Police opens fire on anti-Sterlite protesters in Tuticorin demanding ban on industries

Tuticorin: Nine people died and 20 were injured in police firing after the protest in Tuticorin demanding a ban on Sterlite Industries turned violent, ANI reported.

The months-long protest demanding closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu took a violent turn on Tuesday with agitators pelting stones and toppling police vehicles after they were prevented from marching towards the plant.

 Nine dead after Tamil Nadu Police opens fire on anti-Sterlite protesters in Tuticorin demanding ban on industries

Police and protesters clash in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin on Tuesday over Sterlite industries in the state. Image: Twitter @Ahmedshabbir20

Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on a rampage in the town, about 600 kilometres from Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai.

Police said nearly 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.

Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) has been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it as per the orders of the Madras High Court, said police.

However, angered over not being allowed to take out a rally, the slogan-shouting protesters forcibly tried to push back the security personnel in riot gear.

They then started hurling stones at police and also overturned a vehicle after which the security personnel lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, the police said.

While more than 20 people suffered minor injuries in stone-pelting incident, some vehicles were set on fire, leading to tension in the area, they added. Meanwhile, a peaceful demonstration was held near the old bus stand in the town, also demanding the closure of the Sterlite unit and the proposed expansion of the plant.

Several shops in this town, Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram remained shut in support of the protest, according to the police. The district has been witnessing several protests by locals and others against the Sterlite Copper plant and its proposed expansion.

Protesters have alleged that the plant was polluting ground water in their area. Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 4,00,000 tonnes per annum-plant in Tuticorin.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: May 23, 2018 07:37:01 IST