Thoothukudi protest: Top officials' reaction

By NT Bureau Published on May 23, 2018 01:49 PM IST

Chennai: The months-long protests for the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Thoothukudi over pollution concerns turned violent on Tuesday, with agitators fighting pitched battles with police, prompting the force to open fire.

It has been officially announced that nine people were killed in police firing during the violence. Governor, Chief Minister and several leaders reacted to incident.

Banwarilal Purohit

Governor Banwarilal Purohit condoled the death of people who were killed during the firing.  

"My condolences to each one of the bereaved families. At this critical hour, I appeal to all sections of society to be calm and help in maintaining the peace in the State," he said in a Raj Bhavan release.

Edappadi K Palaniswami  

Detailing the events leading to the 'unfortunate' deaths, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the protesters took out a procession towards the Collectorate defying prohibitory orders in the area.

They not only pelted policemen with stones but also set on fire their vehicles as well as those parked in the collectorate. They hurled stones at the collector's office, he said in a statement.

"The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence. police had to control the violence," Palaniswami said.

"I was grieved to know nine persons were unfortunately killed in this incident," he said, expressing his sympathies and condolences for the families of those killed.

Palaniswami said he has ordered constitution of a one-man commission under a retired high court judge to go into the incident.

The Chief Minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for people who suffered minor injuries.

M K Stalin

DMK working president and leader of opposition, M K Stalin, slammed the 'inhumane' firing on protestors.  In a statement, he demanded an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge, besides a compensation of Rs 1 crore for the families of each of those killed. The government committed a 'Himalayan blunder' by handling the protest with 'guns and teargas shells,' he said, adding at least a Minister accompanied by the district Collector should have spoken to the agitators. He called for the removal of State police chief TK Rajendiran.

Others voice out

* MDMK founder Vaiko likened the incident to the British era Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

* Opposition parties including PMK, DMDK, Congress, and the MNM slammed the violence and police action

* Actor Rajinikanth, who is slated to launch his political party, held the government responsible for the deaths.

*MNM founder Kamal Haasan demanded permanent closure of the Sterlite plant.