A day after eleven people were killed during firing by the Tamil Nadu police in Thoothukudi, the Vedanta group has expressed regret. The corporate has further asked the state government to ensure safety of its employees and facilities.
Thousands of protesters participated in a rally on Tuesday which called for the closure of the Sterlite copper plant, which posed health threats besides causing damage to the environment. On the 100th day of the agitation, protesters were marching to the Collectorate. Eleven people including women have been killed and around 70 people were injured following clashes between police and demonstrators.
"It is with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed today's incidents around the protest at Tuticorin. The company has appealed to the government and authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community. The Sterlite Copper plant is currently non-operational as we await approval for the Consent to Operate," says Vedanata group's statement.
Activists on the ground however allege that Sterlite is behind the attack on unarmed civilians.
Fathima Babu of the Anti Killer Sterlite People's Movement tells TNM that the attack on protesters was an effort to protect Sterlite's interests.
"Sterlite knew it's end was coming. So it interfered in this rally. We were even afraid that they would infiltrate the demonstration and make it violent. And just as we feared, things turned violent. When everyone in Thoothukudi knew a huge protest will be carried out, why weren't the police ready for it? Why did they have to resort to shooting?" she asks. "This attack shows that the state government is in under the control of the corporate. Sterlite and state government have conspired to kill innocent people," she adds.
A statement by Peopleās Watch, a human rights organisation which was present on the ground to monitor the protest said, 'The Government of Tamil Nadu, which was given a choice to either stand by its people or by a copper industry, chose the private entity instead.'