Chennai: A day after eleven people died during protests against Sterlite Industries in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi, Section 144 has been imposed in the city fearing more protests on similar lines.
Section 144 prohibits assembly of more than four people in an area was imposed on Wednesday with most shops and commercial establishments remaining shut. Security was tightened and police personnel were seen keeping a tight vigil in several parts of the city.
The protests were going on in Tuticorin for over three months now, but violence erupted on Tuesday with agitators allegedly fighting pitched battles with police, prompting it to open fire. Locals have alleged that the Sterlite copper plant is responsible for increasing pollution and have been demanding its closure. On Tuesday, the protests flared with police telling PTI that 5000 people had gathered close to a local church and took out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.
Things soon turned violent with police resorting to firing tear gas and live ammunition. Now, authorities face backlash with a number of political leaders strongly condemning measures used to contain the protestors. While Chief Minister EK Palaniswami has announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to family members of each deceased, opposition leaders have torn into him for not preventing the incident.
MDMK founder Vaiko likened the incident to the British era Jallianwala Bagh massacre, while the CPI(M)'s state unit demanded the chief minister's resignation.
Actors-turned politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan slammed the Tamil Nadu government for police firing on protesters.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the state government committed a "Himalayan blunder".