Chennai: Nine people were killed as police opened fire on protesters who went on a rampage on Wednesday demanding closure of a copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu’s port city of Tuticorin, prompting the ruling AIADMK government to issue appeals for calm and a promise to take legal action against the plant.
Chief Minister E Palaniswami, confirming the nine deaths, announced a judicial inquiry into the violence.
The protesters took out a procession towards the collectorate defying prohibitory orders in the area, said the chief minister, adding that they not only threw stones at policemen but also set on fire their vehicles.
Thousands of local residents have been protesting for more than three months against the Sterlite copper smelting plant and its reported expansion but complained that the state government has not responded to their demands. They had intensified protests demanding closure of the plant after reports came in that the group was seeking license for expansion as the initial 25 year license comes to an end.
About 20,000 people gathered at the protest site today and stormed the district collector’s office, vandalizing government property.