Terming as inevitable police opening fire against anti-sterlite movement members in Tuticorin after they indulged in violence, the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday assured to take legal steps on the issue and appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm. Reports say that the police opened fire at around 12:50 pm when they manhandled a freelance photographer's camera and snatched the memory card. "In the wake of these protests, Tamil Nadu government should immediately ensure closure of Sterlite plant", he said. A large number of protestors who managed to enter the collectorate overpowering police pelted stones damaging window panes of the office building and set on fire several government vehicles and employees two-wheelers.
The participants of the procession, which marched towards the Collectorate, toppled a police vehicle, torched many vehicles parked on the two-wheeler parking space and damaged as many as six four-wheelers belonging to the Revenue Department. At Madathur, police had to resort to a mild lathi-charge at Madathur to disperse the public gathering.
The CM also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the families of those killed in today's protests, as well as Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, while Rs 1 lakh will be given to those who suffered minor injuries.
It produces around 400,000 tonnes per annum in its Tuticorin plant. DMK working president M K Stalin squarely blamed the state government for neither preventing the protests nor getting into a dialogue with the protestors for resolving it.
'The gunning down by the police of 9 people in.Tamil Nadu, is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism.
Section 144 of the CrPC was invoked in and around the Sterlite plant to provide security.
"Entering the collector's office and (perpetrating) violence is not acceptable".
More than 2,000 police personnel have been moved from nearby districts to Tuticorin to bring the situation under control.
Opposition parties, some of whom have been supporting the protesters, condemned the police action and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister E Palanisamy of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan termed it a non-violent protest.
Thousands of protesters, especially from Kumarettiyapuram, have been up against the plant's proposed expansion plans citing the threat it poses to the people in neighbouring villages.
People in Toothukudi are demanding the closure of Sterlite copper smelting plant alleging that it was polluting the area, and leading to severe health problems among the residents of the locality, besides depleting the water table. He said, "One can't understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching".