Uneasy calm in Thoothukudi after riots

Thoothukudi: An uneasy calm and eerie silence prevailed in Thoothukudi today, a day after police opened fire to quell arson and violence after the agitation demanding permanent closure of the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant turned violent.

To disperse crowd at Thoothukudi Government Hospital, where postmortem of those dead were carried out, police fired in air this morning.

Police resorted to firing yesterday after thousands of protesters under the banner of Anti-Sterlite movement went on the rampage during the massive rally, torching police vehicles and those parked in the District  Collectorate campus, before pelting stones and ransacking it.

A total of nine people were killed and several injured in the bloody violence in which the protestors fought a pitched battle with the police.

Meanwhile, reports received at the police headquarters in Chennai said one more person succumbed to injuries late last night, taking the toll to ten and a total of 95 people, including 36 policemen, were injured in the violence and were undergoing treatment at the hospital.

Normal life came to a standstill ever since the 100-day anti-Sterlite stir turned violent, with shops and commercial establishments downing their shutters.

A bandh like situation prevailed and people stayed indoors as the district administration announced that prohibitory orders under Sec 144 of CrPC which was promulgated on Monday evening, would be in force till the morning of 25 May.

District Collector N Venkatesh said that prohibitory orders were extended in Vembar, Kulathur, Arumugamangalam, Vedanatham, Ottapidaram, Eppodum Vendran in Thoothukudi.

Public transport was suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of the State  as a precautionary measure. However, there was no bar for the entry of tourist vehicles, sources said.

The entire Thoothukudi town was brought under police control and para military forces and extra police forces drafted from neighbouring districts, were deployed  to maintain law and order.

"Though the situation is tense, it is under control," a senior police official said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the Tamilnadu government over the Thoothukudi police firing during protests.

A special medical team was despatched to Thoothukudi today to attended to people who were injured. State government today announced that an one man inquiry commission headed by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan will probe into the incident.

Vedanta Limited in a statement, said, "It is with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed the incidents around the protest at Tuticorin."

The company has appealed to the government and authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community. The Sterlite Copper plant is currently non-operational as we await approval for the Consent to Operate.