Tuticorin tense after deadly protests

Indian police officials charge towards protestors in the southern Indian city of Tuticorin some 600 kilometres (375 miles) south of Chennai on May 22, 2018, during a protest rally held to demand the closure of a copper factory due to pollution concernsImage copyright AFP
Image caption Police say an estimated 5,000 people attended the protest on Tuesday

A port city in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state remains tense after protests erupted in violence that left at least 11 people dead.

Protests against the Sterlite Copper subsidiary of the Vedanta Resources have been going on for months in Tuticorin.

Residents say a copper smelter is causing environmental damage.

Paramilitary forces are likely to be deployed after two days of clashes between police and local people.

On Wednesday, a court halted the proposed expansion of the company.

Vedanta has denied all the allegations against it and says it plans to double the capacity of the plant.

One person was killed on Wednesday when police fired rubber bullets to disperse violent demonstrators, officials said.

“We fired live ammunition in the air to disperse the protesters. But the mob continued to pelt stones and bombs. They were setting fire to vehicles,” a police officer told the AFP news agency.

Image caption Police say 18 officers have been wounded in the clashes

“We were forced to fire rubber bullets which unfortunately hit one man in the spine and he died,” he added.

On Tuesday, 10 people died when police opened fire as a huge crowd of protesters stormed district government headquarters.

Amnesty International said police had “many questions to answer” and “those responsible should be brought to justice”.

P Mahendran, chief of Tuticorin police, said 18 policemen were injured in the clashes.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police response.

A curfew has been imposed in parts of the city and internet services are suspended. Most businesses have remained shut since the violence began.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, has described the deaths as “a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism”.

“These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice,” he said.

Protesters say the plant is polluting ground water in the area and threatens the fishing industry.

The plant has been shut for more than 50 days due to alleged non-compliance with environmental rules.

Source: BBC NEWS

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