Tamil Nadu Appoints Former Judge To Head Inquiry On Tuticorin Violence

Tamil Nadu Appoints Former Judge To Head Inquiry On Tuticorin Violence

Demonstrations against the copper plant, one of India's biggest, have been going on for more than three months, with protesters alleging that it is a major source of pollution and risk to fisheries.

Shares of Vedanta fell 6 per cent today on reports that nine people were killed in police firing after protests against the closure of Vedanta group's Sterlite Copper plant turned violent in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin.

It was not immediately clear if the dead person and the injured were protesters who had been shot by police.

Police said almost 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.

Outrage over the police killings grew on Wednesday, and was fuelled by a video showing a plainclothes police officer boarding a bus and firing his rifle at protesters.

Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Ltd which operates a four lakh tonne per annum plant at Tuticorin. "Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?" Another police van was also burnt, local reports said. The government committed a "Himalayan blunder" by handling the protest with 'guns and teargas shells, ' he said, adding at least a Minister accompanied by the district Collector should have spoken to the agitators. "The situation is tense but under control today", he said.

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Sterlite released a statement expressing sorrow and regret over the deaths that took place during the protests.

Chennai: Sterlite Copper on Wednesday said its factory in Tuticorin district is now non-functional and the company is awaiting approval from the authorities to resume operations at the site.

Environmental activists and some local politicians want the government to shut the plant permanently.

While Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said that police had been forced to act "since protesters disregarded a curfew, acted against the advice of police, opposition called it cold blooded murder".

Tuesday's police firing, which also left about 80 people injured, sparked intense criticism. "The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", she said.

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