May 22, 2018
Indiscriminate firing is highly condemnable, responsibility must be fixed as to who ordered the firing on protesters say opposition leaders.
Death toll in the “indiscriminate” police firing on Sterlite protesters touched 9 and could reach the double figures and some of the injured admitted to local hospitals on Tuesday were in a serious condition.
Police resorted to firing after lathi charge and tear gas shells failed to disperse the crowd of protesters seeking closure of the Sterlite Copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi , in which at least nine people were killed. Toll could be higher as few people were in serious condition. Among the injured is a 16 year old school girl waiting for her bus when she was hit by a bullet.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in the morning during a rally demanding the closure of Sterlite Copper Smelter plant.
Opposition leader, DMK working president MK Stalin condemned the police action and demanded justice the families of those killed and injured in the police firing, which he said was unjustified. The government must give compensation of Rs 1 crore to the families of the deceased, Stalin said.
Police fired indiscriminately, Stalin charged and said knowing fully well the protests were growing the government should have been better prepared. The only solution to the problem is that the plant must be shut down completely and immediately, Stalin said.
Film actor turned politician Kamal Haasan addressed a hurriedly called press conference and condemned the police firing. “Why was the situation allowed to continue this far without holding talks with the protesters,” he questioned and said the responsibility for firing must be fixed. “Who ordered the firing,” he questioned adding that mere suspension of an officer or two will not suffice as it was a peaceful protest and police action was without any justification.
In the morning, the protests were blacked out on TV but the deaths in police firing forced the channels to show the incident as the national TV channels began beaming the footage of the protests and news about police action.
At the last count, 9 persons were killed after the police resorted to firing following firing tear gas shells and lathi charge failed to disperse the crowd that went more aggressive, sources said. Actually the protesters torched some vehicles in the vicinity following which the police swing into action, a police officer on the spot said.
To disperse the protesters who were throwing stones, the police carried out a lathi charge. When this did not deter the protesters, police fired tear gas shells. When the situation went out of control the police opened fire. Several journalists covering the incident were also injured. New photographer N Rajesh of the Hindu was among those who was roughed up protesters. The protesters erased all the pictures but relented and returned the memory card that they snatched.
The protesters were marching towards the Collectorate and torched many vehicles and damaged government vehicles. Window panes of buildings were also smashed.
All the police presence, of 2500 personnel could not prevent the mob that kept growing as the day grew, with scant regard for prohibitory orders in Thoothukudi South and SIPCOT police station areas. Collector N. Venkatesh had banned the assembly of five or more persons, rallies, public meetings, processions and carrying lethal weapons and flags of caste outfits and entry of hired vehicles with people for any kind of protest from other parts of Thoothukudi district or other districts.
MK Stalin cancels his visit to Bengaluru for swearing in ceremony in wake of sterlite protest.
In Chennai, Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami held a review meeting and directed the police to bring the situation under control. State DGP T.K. Rajendran may visit Thoothukudi town later this evening, source said. Already, senior police officers are camping on the spot.