Tamil Nadu anti-Sterlite protests: Death toll mounts to 10

Police clashed with protesters calling for the closure of Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin

Police clashed with protesters calling for the closure of Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin

The protests were going on in Tuticorin for over three months now, but violence erupted on Tuesday with agitators fighting pitched battles with police, prompting it to open fire. DMK leader K Kanimozhi said that the police shot even though the protesters were agitating peacefully.

The demonstrators are demanding the closure of a copper plant on the outskirts of Tuticorin in the southern state of Tamil Nadu owned by British-based mining giant Vedanta Resources, which they say is causing environmental damage. Initial pushing and shoving soon led to violent clashes, after agitated locals began hurling stones at police and overturned a vehicle.

Most of the injured are civilians but 36 policemen also suffered injuries of various kinds in mob fury, official sources said.

The state's chief minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, said police had been forced to act after the protests turned violent, and that nine people had been killed.

Police try to remove people protesting against the construction of a copper smelter by Vedanta Resources from the road, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in this still image from May 23, 2018 video footage. Reinforcements have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy. Meanwhile, an official release said about 20,000 people took out a procession towards the district collectorate and the copper plant, demanding its permanent closure. Will @CMOTamilNadu take action against DGP for failing to maintain law and order?

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The state's chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.

The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator's office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant. "The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", she said.

The plant, about 375 miles (600km) south of Tamil Nadu's state capital Chennai, is now shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site.

The Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) came out strongly against the killings of protesters in police firing and compared the incident with Punjab's Jallianwalla Bagh massacre by the British, which took place almost a hundred years ago.

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