Thoothukudi, May 23: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has stayed the production of new copper smelter by Sterlite industries in Thoothukudi, reports ANI. As the toll in the violence following the anti-Sterlite protests rose to 11 on Wednesday, the Home Ministry also sought a report from the Tamil Nadu government over the incident. Tamil Nadu director of Medical Education Dr A Edwin Joe said that 42 people were admitted in hospital while ten bodies were in the mortuary. He said 17 surgeries had been performed.
Meanwhile, the Opposition in the state woke up to the unrest. While leaders of various political parties turned up to meet the injured, media reported how police, which fired at the protesters in retaliation, were equipped to cause harm. On Tuesday, agitators had pelted stones at the protest when they weren’t allowed to march towards the Sterlite Copper Unit. The violence came to such a head that the Madras High Court had to impose Section 144 of the CrPC. The government issued a statement asking people to maintain peace.
Today, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko visited the hospital to meet the injured. DMK chief MK Stalin, who was supposed to attend HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing in as the Karnataka Chief Minister has turned down the invitation in view of the violence. Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan, who also heads Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) visited Thoothukudi before attending the swearing-in. PMK’s Anbumani Ramadoss said, “What happened in Tuticorin is a cold-blooded murder by police. They should be booked for murder & SP, Collector, DGP & Chief Secretary should be suspended. Taking moral responsibility, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami should resign.”
BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy has said that Congress leader P Chidambaram should speak up now. He said the former minister was a paid director of the company for years and as such, it was his responsibility to speak up on behalf of the company.
Reports on how the police A clip on ANI shows local police with assault rifles to disperse protesters. In the video, a policeman in civilian clothes lies atop a vehicle, taking aim with his Self Loading Rifle. Some cops can reportedly also be heard saying that the man should aim right and make sure at least one protester died.
Protesters have been alleging that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area. Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000 tonnes per annum-plant in Tuticorin.