Thoothukudi/Chennai: Police in Thoothukudi opened fire again on Wednesday to control a rioting mob at Anna Nagar, killing Kaliappan, 22, and injuring five others. Police came under attack with stones and petrol bombs, eyewitnesses said.
With 11 falling to police firing on Tuesday, when the anti-Sterlite stir entered the 100th day and the protesters marched to the district collector’s office to present demand for permanent closure of the copper smelter unit alleging it was polluting environment and groundwater, Kaliappan’s death now has taken the toll in the unfortunate and avoidable tragedy to 12.
While the conflict seemed set for a prolonged showdown between the State and the protesters, who appear to be backed by a well-organised network of activists and Tamil fringe groups, the flare-up is also spreading to other parts of Tamil Nadu and adjacent Puducherry.
The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Wednesday ordered stay of the Sterlite expansion work and asked the Centre to submit a report within four months after holding a public hearing in Thoothukudi. The significant court order was hailed by the protesters as their ‘first victory’ but considering that they are now divided among different groups, their agitation is likely to go on unless the government quickly takes up damage-controlling exercises to assuage public fears while handling the law-breakers with firmness.
The government has ordered revamp of the district administration bringing in a new collector and SP, besides sending two seasoned IAS officials, agriculture secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi and transport secretary PWC Dawidar, to oversee the much-needed healing/firming up process as the ‘monitoring officers’.
Tamils in London staged protest outside the residence of Vedanta Group chairman Anil Agarwal, waving placards and demanding closure of his Sterlite unit in Thoothukudi. The Vedanta shares dropped by six per cent in the Indian share market.
The company’s woes seem worsening with the state government making clear it was keen on the closure of the Thoothukudi factory, which was established way back in 1993.
Collector, SP shifted out of Thoothukudi
Chennai: A day after the brutal police firiing killed 11 persons for protesting against Sterlite Copper in Thoothukudi, the government shunted out district collector N.Venkatesh and Superintendent of Police P. Mahendran on Wednesday.
In an order, Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan appointed Sandeep Nanduri, currently the collector of Tirunelveli district, as the collector of Thoothukudi district. N. Venkatesh has been transferred and posted as additional state project director for implementation of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. In a separate order, home secretary Niranjan Mardi transferred P. Mahendran and posted him as deputy commissioner of police (Traffic-North), Greater Chennai Police. SP of Nilgiris district, Murali Rambha, is the new SP of Thoothukudi.