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Anti-Sterlite protests: Death toll rises to 13, internet suspended for 5 days in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin

WION Web Team
Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 24, 2018, 09:44 AM IST

Tuesday had been the 100th consecutive day of protest against a Vedanta-owned copper-smelting plant. Photograph:(PTI)

Story highlights

On Wednesday, the police allegedly used assault rifles to shoot at protesters in Tamil Nadu's Thootukudi

The death toll in the anti-Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin has risen to 13 and more than 70 people who were injured in the clashes with police are undergoing treatment. 

The area continues to remain tense and police have been deployed in large numbers. 

Internet services meanwhile have been suspended (starting 9 pm Wednesday) for five days. 

ANI reported that 67 people have so far been arrested for violence.

Tuticorin's Superintendent of Police and the District Collector were meanwhile transferred on Wednesday after fresh protests broke out. 

Eleven people had been killed in clashes with police on Tuesday. The police allegedly used assault rifles to shoot at the protesters; 11 people had died on Tuesday and scores were injured.  

The opposition DMK meanwhile has said it will observe a statewide shutdown on May 25 in protest against the killings. The party will also demand that the Sterlite copper-smelting plant in Tuticorin is shut down permanently.

That is what the protesters had been demanding — the shutting down of the plant which they say has polluted their air and water and to an increase in cancer in the area. 

The protests against the plant have been going on for years. 

They erupted again in February when the plant announced it was expanding its capacity. 

Tuesday was the hundredth day of protests against the plant.  

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Tamil Nadu's AIADMK government has come in for severe censure over the deaths caused by police firing. 

Actor-turned-politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan and DMK president M K Stalin and MDMK leader Vaiko and several others condemned the police atrocities. 

MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) called for an all-party protest on May 25 over ongoing anti-Sterlite clashes.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nady government has appointed retired Judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe police firing during the anti-Sterlite protest. On Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police and asked for reports within a fortnight. 

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed the plant's planned expansion. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Tamil Nadu government for a report on the killings

The foundation stone of Sterlite’s copper-smelting plant in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi district was laid by the late former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa, in the year 1994.

For over two decades, locals here have been fighting cases in various courts to protest its ongoing operations stating that the plant causes severe air and water pollution and contaminates the soil.  

So far, there have only been temporary shutdowns and the plant has continued with its operations. 

This year, fresh protests started in February when the company commenced works on its second unit amid opposition from the local people.

Section 144 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code which lists out the procedure for administration of law in India), which prevents unlawful assembly of people in an area, has been imposed in and around the Sterlite unit.