Violence broke out again in Tuticorin yesterday, in which one person died.
Tuticorin: Under attack over police firing on protesters in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami appeared to defend the police and blamed the violence on "political parties and anti-social elements". They "misled" the protesters against Sterlite, and the police defended themselves after they came under attack, he said. Union minister Rajnath Singh has asked for a report on the violence of Tuesday, when police opened fire on protesters. The violence cost 10 lives, two more people died since. The authorities have suspended cellphone internet in Tuticorin and the adjoining districts of Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli as part of its efforts to restore calm.
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"When someone hits you, you naturally tend to defend yourselves. So on such situations, no one acts in a pre-planned manner," Mr Palaniswami said in his first public address since Tuesday's violence. Earlier too, he said the police acted to protect lives and property.
Mr Palaniswami also accused Opposition parties and anti-socials of "inciting the protests against Sterlite" for their own political gains.
As part of the efforts to restore calm, the administration indefinitely suspended cellphone Internet services from 9 pm yesterday. The government has also ordered a judicial inquiry and transferred the top police and administration officer of the area. Prohibitory orders are still in place in pockets of Tuticorin city.
The last rites of those who died in the violence are yet to take place. The Madras High Court has ordered that the bodies be preserved till further orders.
Chief Minister Palaniswami has been facing massive backlash and accusations of neglect, since no minister has visited Tuticorin since the violence. Among political leaders, only actor-politician Kamal Haasan, MDMK chief Vaiko and opposition DMK chief MK Stalin have visited the area.
Gujarat Congress legislator Alpesh Thakor tweeted: "Prime minister of india feels sorry for Americans when shootout was happened in USA and In this week 13 Indians Killed in police shooting in Toothukudi-TN, but he remain silent.He reacts on celebrity or cricketer's challenge but he never heard any common man's voice".
After the cellphone internet shutdown, Kamal Haasan tweeted, "Internet connection cut in Thooththukkudi? Alarming! What next? excommunicate Tamilnadu? TN would see an uprising,much bigger than any, in its history. No Government is strong enough to take on the might of my people."
The opposition DMK has called Tuesday's police crackdown a massacre equivalent to Jallianwala Bagh, in which the British forces opened fire on a peaceful gathering nearly 100 years ago. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal tweeted, "The police neither have the right nor a duty to kill. In Tuticorin the State did that".
Ten people died during clashes as the police tried to stop the protesters from marching to the district collectorate on Tuesday. Later, a video showing the police taking strategic position atop a bus and shooting at the crowd below, triggered outrage.Violence broke out again yesterday, in which one person died.
Sterlite chairman Anil Agarwal, who is stepping back from running the company, said they were "strictly following the orders of the court and the government" and were "totally committed to the people". The Sterlite plant has been in trouble repeatedly for alleged violation of environmental norms. Protests had been on for three months demanding a permanent closure of the plant.