New Delhi, May 23: In a fresh development in Tuticorin protest, the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday removed Superintendent of Police, Thiru P Mahendran, and Collector N Venkatesh. The city is on the boil after 12 people were killed in the police firing.
Worried over the persistent mass anger, the authorities suspended Internet in the districts of Thoothukudi or Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari as a precaution to stop the spread of rumours and graphic pictures and videos of the violence and clashes between the protesters and police.
The town continued to smoulder for a second day as thousands demonstrated outside the main hospital opposing the autopsy on those killed on Tuesday when police opened fire alleging that mobs had gone on the rampage and were about to vandalize the Collectorate. The fresh death on Wednesday only added to the anger of the demonstrators and the opposition parties.
On Tuesday, police firing killed 11 people, most of them from nearby villages who were demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper smelting plant they said was destroying the farmlands and leading to severe health issues in the region.
On Wednesday, the police fired at crowds in Anna Nagar, killing a young man. The demonstrators insisted that the police action was unprovoked. The police accused the crowds of stoning the police. Police also fired tear gas at a crowd massed outside the Government Hospital in the town where the bodies of those killed on Tuesday were kept.
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court stayed the construction of Vedanta Ltd’s Copper Smelter Plant 2 at Tuticorin, some 650 km from Chennai. The Madurai bench of the High Court gave this direction on a PIL against the expansion of the company’s plant.
Condemning the police action, DMK leader M.K. Stalin said all opposition parties in Tamil Nadu will hold protests on Friday. The parties include the DMK, MDMK, Congress, MMK, CPI, CPI-M and VCK.
Nearly 100 people were injured in the violence on Tuesday, including 36 policemen. Normal life in the town was virtually crippled on Wednesday, with shops and commercial establishments not opening for business. Educational institutions remained closed.
Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed all over the town in large numbers.