Tamil Nadu anti-Sterlite protests: Death toll mounts to 10

Section 144 imposed in Thoothukudi after protests against Sterlite Industries

The smelter, run by Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit, is controlled by Vedanta Ltd, a majority-owned subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources.

P Mahendran, superintendent of Thoothukudi district police, said 18 officers were also wounded in the clashes.

"The Sterlite Copper plant is now non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate", it said. A bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth passed the order staying construction of Vedanta's (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) second unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu.

Witnesses said demonstrators set fire to a police bus Wednesday and ransacked a liquor shop.

"Mass Murder of Innocent People", he tweeted Wednesday.

Thousands of local residents participated in Tuesday's protests, which turned violent after the police barricaded the route to the collector's office.




Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths "a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss said, "What happened in Tuticorin is a cold-blooded murder by police". "The situation is tense but under control today", he said.

The Sterlite plant, which is more than 20 years old, was shut down for two months in 2013 by the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa after people complained of irritation in their eyes. Security personnel used batons and burst teargas shells to break up the protest.

The Tamil Nadu government ordered a judicial inquiry into the police firing on Tuesday.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami defended the police response in a statement, citing "unavoidable circumstances" and blaming the protestors for resorting to "repeated violence". A number of people had gathered at the hospital - where the bodies of people who died in Tuesday's protests have been kept - despite the prohibitory orders that are in place, The New Indian Express reported. "The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", she said.

Two policemen were also injured, doctors at the hospital said, adding that all injured were stable.

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