The fire was contained, but the bus was gutted.

Thoothukudi protests Police bus set on fire by unidentified persons no one hurt
news Sterlite protest Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 13:54

A police bus was set on fire on Wednesday in Thoothukudi by unidentified persons, a day after the town saw widespread violence as police and protesters, agitating against the Sterlite copper smelting plant, clashed. Eleven people died as the police opened fire on the protesters and 70 people are injured. Those who died include women and children.

The visuals showed a gutted bus as the fire was being contained. No one has died and no one has been injured in the incident, which took place in Thoothukudi's Bryant Nagar, 1.5 km away from the Government Hospital

The police could be seen walking around with loudspeakers around the town, appealing for calm. 'Public should not indulge in such activities. Please stay safe inside your houses. People of Thoothukudi should cooperate with police,' they announced.

Activists say the sequence of events are eerily similar to what happened in Chennai during the Jallikattu protests in 2017.

"The police are doing exactly what they did at the end of the Jallikattu protests. They set fire to public property then and tried to blame protesters. Similarly now, when there are no people on the roads, they are trying to pin the blame of arson on agitators," says Prince Cardoza, an activist who was part of the protests on Tuesday.

"The police has come with a plan to use violence to curb protests," he adds.

Meanwhile, reports emerged of the police resorting to lathi charge and hurling tear gas shells, apart from firing in the air, to control the crowd outside the GH. 

On Tuesday, the town witnessed widespread violence, as the police opened fire on the protesters.

Following the clashes, police resorted to a lathi charge, firing tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, even as protesters retaliated by pelting stones. Visuals also showed a police van that had been toppled over, while many private vehicles had been set on fire. The Collectorate was also ransacked by angry protesters.

According to some estimates, at least 1 lakh protesters participated in the rally called to demand the closure of the Sterlite copper plant, which poses health threats to the local residents, besides causing damage to the environment.

The police action has sparked widespread anger across the state, with several people slamming the use of assault rifles to control the crowd.

Read: Thoothukudi violence: Post-mortems begin, as cops in riot-gear stand outside hospital

 

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