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Protests against Vedanta plant turns violent, 1 killed in

Protests against Vedanta plant turns violent, 1 killed in

Protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police, prompting them to open fire.

Agitators toppled vehicles, vandalized government offices and surrounded the district collector's office.

Meanwhile, a state minister said that though the government appreciated the sentiments of the protesters, police firing had become "unavoidable". As hundreds of protesters defied prohibitory orders on the 100th day of their agitation and allegedly attacked the District Collectorate, the police resorted to firing.

Several shops in Tuticorin, besides Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram, remained shut in support of the protest, police said.

The Chief Minister, who held a meeting with his ministerial colleagues and top police officials including DGP T.K. Rajendran, said action would be taken against the company. 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.

"The gunning down by the police of nine people in the Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". Police officials resorted to lathicharge and tear gas to disperse the crowd to contain the tense situation.

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He also urged people to stay calm and said that the government respects the feelings of the people and will take appropriate action on the matter.

Section 144 of the IPC, which prohibits assembly of more than four persons in an area, was enforced in the area on the orders of the Madras High Court.

Over 4,000 police personnel from the nearby district have been deployed to prevent crowding proved futile, as the protesters at various areas breached the barricades and marched forward towards the collectorate.

ADMK Government is responsible for the violence in Tuticorin. Apart from this, activists contend, a plant like Sterlite will require lot of surface water and resources, which may gradually lead to depletion of drinking water in the area and also shortage for agricultural supply.

The residents of Thoothukudi have been demanding closure of the Sterlite Copper claiming that the pollution caused by it is causing them severe health problems. The government said it was committed to respecting people's aspirations and was working in sync with it. Though the plant was ordered to shut down following allegations of violating pollution control norms, the National Green Tribunal had ultimately allowed it to be reopened. They have always been dying, first because of the plant now because of the government's attitude.

Sterlite Copper is a unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant in Tuticorin. "We would like to restart the plant as soon as possible, in a peaceful manner", said P Ramnath, the chief executive of Vedanta's copper business. They are ones who lose their lives; earlier due to Sterlite and now due to the government's order.

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