CHENNAI: Retired Judge Aruna Jagadeesan has been appointed by the Tamil Nadu government to probe police firing during anti-sterlite protest in Thoothukudi on Tuesday in which 11 people had been killed. The Home Ministry has sought a report from Tamil Nadu government over the violence.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued a notice to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary and Director general of police (DGP) over the police firing. Meanwhile, a Madurai bench of Madras High Court has 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.
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. Section 144 has been imposed in the city fearing more protests on similar lines.