The situation continues to remain tense in Thoothukudi, where at least 11 civilians were killed and 70 injured on Tuesday as clashes broke out between the police and demonstrators protesting against the Sterlite plant.
Thousands of protesters participated in the rally calling for the closure of the Sterlite copper plant, which posed health threats besides causing damage to the environment. Tuesday marked day 100 of the protests against the Sterlite plant, with the agitation having begun in February.
Protesters who marched to the Thoothukudi Collectorate against the expansion of the Sterlite Copper plant owned by Vedanta Limited were stopped by barricades put up by the police. As people marched ahead, breaching the barricades, and entered the Collectorate, the police retaliated and fired at the crowds.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday passed an interim order staying the construction of the new copper smelter by Sterlite.
The police's action of opening fire on protesters has come under heavy criticism from several quarters, with many even demanding that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami-led government step down.
Amid the outrage, the state has appointed controversial judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe the killing of the civilians. Aruna was part of the bench that gave a clean chit to the police in February 2015, for alleged fake encounters in Velachery that killed five men suspected of bank robbery. A plea for a CBI probe into the matter was also dismissed by the bench.
Meanwhile, in fresh police firing, at least one person was killed and five injured in Thoothukudi on Wednesday. According to reports, police fired rubber bullets at protesters, who were stone pelting at the SP’s vehicle. In the incident, the SP was injured.
Normal life in Thoothukudi was virtually crippled on Wednesday, with most people staying indoors as the district administration announced that prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people that were imposed on Monday evening would remain in force till May 25.
District Collector N Venkatesh said the prohibitory orders were extended in Vembar, Kulathur, Arumugamangalam, Vedanatham, Ottapidaram and Eppodum Vendran in Thoothukudi district.
Shops and commercial establishments remained shut, educational institutions were also closed.
Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed all over the town in large numbers.
With IANS inputs