A day after 11 people died during clashes with police in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin, a Madurai bench of Madras High Court issued a stay order on the construction of a new copper smelter by Sterlite Industries.
The protestors had been demanding a halt in construction and had blamed it for pollution in the area. In the ensuing violence, 11 protestors died as local police officials allegedly fired live ammunition and tear gas to dispel the crowds. A video also shows police officials allegedly firing from assault rifles.
Vedanta shares fell by 5% in early trading on Wednesday. Sterlite Copper is the copper unit of Vedanta.
The protests that had been going on in Tuticorin for over three months, took a violent turn on Tuesday with agitators fighting pitched battles with police, prompting it to open fire. Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town, about 600 km from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai. (Also read: Section 144 imposed in Thoothukudi)
Police said nearly 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant. Initial pushing and shoving soon led to violent clashes, after agitated locals began hurling stones at police and overturned a vehicle. Security personnel used batons and burst teargas shells to break up the protest.
Many were injured in stone-pelting by the agitators, who also set some vehicles on fire. Windscreens of some government cars were smashed and bank premises were attacked by the rampaging mobs. Reinforcements had to be rushed in from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy.
The TN state government has announced monetary compensation for the victims but has not been able to shield itself from the barrage of criticism from several political parties and leaders. The Home Ministry has now asked it for a detailed report on the incident.