As Thoothukudi grapples to come to terms with the violence it witnessed the previous day as police and protesters, agitating against the Sterlite copper smelting plant, clashed - leading to the deaths of 11 people - politicians across the spectrum slammed the police action.
Over a dozen people have also been injured, several of whom are reportedly critical. The people killed by the police action include women and children.
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.
Here are the latest updates.
Hundreds of police officials, dressed in full riot gear, gathered outside the Government Hospital in Thoothukudi, where the post-mortem of those who died in the clashes on Tuesday was taking place. TNM reporters say that lathi charge and tear gas have been used by police to disperse people.
The Madras High Court heard the case regarding allegations of Sterlite operating a second unit in Thoothukudi by violating the Environmental Protection Act of 1986 on Wednesday. The HC passed an interim order staying the construction of a copper smelting unit by the company. The decision on the construction of the smelter would be made in September.
TN Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy held a meeting state DGP Thiru TK Rajendran.
DMK Working President MK Stalin condemned the violence on the protesters, and demanded that CM Palaniswamy resign. On Wednesday, he also held DGP TK Rajendran responsible, and demanded his resignation as well.
PMK Chief Anbumani Ramadoss also asked for CM Palaniswamyâ€™s resignation. He said, â€śWhat happened in Tuticorin is a cold-blooded murder by police. Taking moral responsibility, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami should resign.â€ť
While the TN government has been maintaining that police action was unavoidable, videos of policemen in plain clothes taking aim with rifles at protesters from atop a van, have caused a lot of anger.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan and T Rajendar came to visit the injured from the protest admitted at the Thoothukudi General Hospital.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit appointed retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan to head the probe into the Thoothukudi firing and violence. The Union Home Ministry also asked the TN government to submit a report on the same.
The Home Ministry too has sought a report on the incident from the state government.
The National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the state government with regard to the police action taken, questioning why assault rifles were used in the first place to control the crowds.
Amnesty International India also condemned the use of excessive force by the police to contain the protesters. â€śExcessive use of force is not the answer to crowd control. Police should only use force as a last resort, and such force should only be used when strictly unavoidable to protect life. Police must be able to distinguish between persons engaging in violence and peaceful demonstrators or bystanders,â€ť said Abhirr VP, Senior Campaigner, Amnesty International India. The press release issued also slammed the police for being woefully underprepared to handle the crowds, despite knowing that a huge crowd was set to protest on Tuesday.
A case has been registered against Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan for visiting the Government Hospital in Thoothukudi while the town is under section 144 of IPC which restricts gathering of over 5 persons. On Wednesday morning Kamal Haasan had visited those injured in Thoothukudi General Hospital along with his team.
Speaking to reporters in Thoothukudi, Kamal Haasan said, â€śGovernment should stop threatening people. Those whoâ€™ve ordered such action should step down on their own accord and this will be their smallest punishment. People will give them the bigger punishment. If they have some conscience, they should step down. Government should act maturely and be ready for peace talks.â€ť
Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth had tweeted a video from his official Twitter handle. In it he said, "I severely condemn the Governmentâ€™s apathy, the failure of all the departments including the investigative department and the Police departmentâ€™s violent, lawless, brutal acts. My deepest condolences for those whoâ€™ve lost their families.â€ť
Actor Suriya in a press release has said, â€śThe protests in Thoothukudi are not caste or religious riots. It is an ongoing battle for peopleâ€™s livelihood. People are not protesting against Sterlite factories all of a sudden. They are fighting for over 25 years for this cause. When people come to the streets in protest, the government should respect their feelings. They should not confront them with the power of law and the sword of power.â€ť
Actor Karthi too in a press release condemned governmentâ€™s actions. â€śGovernment should only try to solve peopleâ€™s problems and not try to suppress them by unleashing brutality,â€ť he said.
Activist-turned-politician Jignesh Mevani Tweeted "What is happening in #Thoothukudi? Police killing people who are simply demanding clean air to breathe and a better environment to survive in? The government has colluded with corporations like #Vedanta - ek aisi rajneeti of profits over people! Absolutely sickening."
Three Advocates approached Madras High Court against police firing incident in Thoothukudi. MHC has ordered to preserve the bodies of the 11 ppl who were killed in Police firing on Tuesday after the postmortem is completed. It also said that the bodies should be preserved until the further orders are pronounced.