Tuticorin: The police chief and the District Collector of Tuticorin were transferred on Wednesday evening after fresh violence broke out over anti-Sterlite protests in which two people were killed in police firing. The police said they opened fire as the protesters started throwing stones, injuring a senior officer. Elsewhere, two police jeeps were set on fire and actor-politician Kamal Haasan was heckled when he went to a hospital to visit those who were injured in Tuesday's police violence. Ten people died on Tuesday after police opened fire on protesters who were demanding a permanent closure of the copper smelting plant of Sterlite.
Here are the top 10 updates in this big story:
- Collector N Venkatesh has been replaced by the Collector of neighbouring Tirunelveli Sandeep Nanduri, while Nilgiris district police chief Murali Rambha will take over from Superintendent of Police P Mahendran.
- Protests started on Wednesday as hundreds hit the streets, raising slogans against Tuesday's deaths. IThe Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday ordered suspension of internet services in Tuticorin and adjoining districts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari for five days to prevent spread of rumours through social media.The port town had been under prohibitory orders that ban large gatherings.
- As the police moved forward to control the crowd, the protesters hurled home-made bombs and stones at them. The police said they fired rubber bullets at the crowd and sent volleys of live ammunition overhead, but one of the rubber bullets hit a man on the spine, killing him, reported news agency AFP.
- The Tuticorin police have faced intense criticism over their handling of the protests after they opened fire to disperse a crowd of several thousand on Tuesday. Ten people died and more than 50 were injured in the violence.
- Actor-politician Kamal Haasan was heckled when he visited the hospital in Tuticorin where 42 people are admitted, some of them in a serious condition.
- The protesters had been demanding a permanent closure of the existing copper smelting plant, blaming it for extensive pollution in the area. The police have claimed they had opened fire after the mob went on rampage.
- The Madras High Court has put on hold the construction of a second copper smelting plant by Sterlite, after a petition claimed the company was building it without the necessary permission. The freeze will continue till September 23, by which time, the company has been asked to get environmental clearances.
- E Palaniswami's government has come under extensive criticism. The opposition DMK said it was a massacre equivalent to Jallianwala Bagh, in which the British forces led by General Reginald Dyer had opened fire on a peaceful gathering nearly 100 years ago.
- A video from Tuticorin released by news agency ANI showed a policeman crawl on his belly to take position on the top of a bus and get prepared to shoot. In the background, a voice is heard -- "At least one should die". Seconds later he fires the first shot.
- The Sterlite plant has been in trouble repeatedly for alleged violation of environmental norms. It has been shut since March 27 after the state Pollution body refused to grant it licence to reopen. Earlier, a shutdown was ordered but the National Green Tribunal ultimately allowed it to be reopened. The Supreme Court also slapped a Rs. 100-crore fine on it for pollution over the years.
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