2 dead in police firing during anti-Sterlite protest

By NT Bureau Published on May 22, 2018 02:18 PM IST

[smartslider3 slider=10]

 Chennai: Two people were killed as the police opened fire on protesters at Thoothukudi today, after an agitation against the Sterlite Copper plant turned violent all of a sudden.

Many reportedly suffered injuries, and the Collectorate went up in flames as an angry mob set fire to the building and the vehicles inside the premises.

The otherwise calm coastal town posted a fiery look today as protesters turned violent, resulting in the police using strong measures to stop them.

The police were outnumbered by 3,000 heads as more than 5,000 protesters were seen on the streets, demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper unit.

Agitators have been on the streets for three days straight, after protests were called by the Anti-Sterlite Movement. The members of the movement are scheduled to besiege the collectorate today.

After two days of silent demonstrations, people took to violence as their on-going protests went unanswered.

Two-wheelers were set on fire by the agitators and stones were hurled at the police that saw the cops flee. Having been outnumbered, the police tried to use teargas on people but in vain. They had no other option but to leave the spot as a raging crowd increased as time passed.

The protesters were headed to the Collector's office where there was strong police presence. Earlier, around 2,500 police personnel were deployed in various parts of Thoothukudi as security was strengthened ahead of the stir.

Barricades were put up at the entry to the collectorate to prevent any protester from barging in.

When the protesters forced their entry into the collectorate and overturned vehicles, cops opened fire at the public, leaving two dead. The police also came from behind the collectorate and charged at the crowd in a bid to disperse them and bring the situation under control.

The mob then turned to the collectorate, raiding the place and setting it on fire. The staff were seen fleeing after the place went up in flames. More than 50 vehicles were engulfed in the flames inside the collectorate.

The agitators also set fire to the quarters of the staff working in Sterlite.

While the attacks were happening, media personnel were also assaulted. It was reported that more armed police personnel are now being deployed to curb the protests.

Earlier, the protesters split as they had a difference in opinion. While one group from various villages, including Kumareddiyapuram, decided to lay siege to the collectorate, a section of traders was planning to organise a protest demonstration on SAV school grounds. The police had granted permission to hold a demonstration on the school grounds.