NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) for the violence in Tamil Nadu where at least 11 people have been killed and several have been injured. "The bullets of the RSS and Modi can never crush the feelings of the Tamil people. Brothers and sisters, we are with you," he tweeted on Wednesday.
He had also termed the deaths of those killed during police firing during protests against the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu a "brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". He said people were murdered in Tuticorin for protesting against injustice.
"The gunning down by the police of 9 people in the Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured," Rahul had said on Tuesday.
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.
In a video released by news agency ANI on Tuesday, a policeman in civilian clothes is seen lying on the top of a vehicle and taking aim with his Self Loading Rifle (SLR) at the protesters. Some police officials can allegedly be heard saying that they should target the protesters and at least one person should die in the firing.
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 have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy.