Anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi, the violence and aftermath

Tamil Nadu Police fired from assault rifles on anti Sterlite protesters heard saying at least one should die

The state's chief minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, said police had been forced to act after the protests turned violent, and that nine people had been killed.

While the fate of the plant has to be decided on a scientific evaluation of whether it is flouting pollution norms or not, the question immediately at hand is whether police and administration should have managed yesterday's protest in a more sophisticated way, averting the high death toll.

He said police had been forced to act "since protesters disregarded a curfew, acted against the advice of police", and indulged in violence.

The home ministry has asked the state government to provide details of the incident at Tuticorin, an official said.

Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu.

Earlier in the day, additional security was deployed outside the Thoothukudi General Hospital after a bus was set ablaze there by protesters. When they allegedly attacked the District Collectorate, the police resorted to firing.

Women shout slogans during a protest against the government and police forces after at least nine people were killed when police fired at protesters calling for the closure of a Vedanta Resources-controlled copper smelter in Thootukudi, in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, India, May 22, 2018.

"Yes, the situation is tense but it is under control", a senior police officer said. Environmental activists say the cooper plant is polluting local water resources, allegations the company denied as "false propaganda". "When people of Maharashtra said that they did not want a factory that was risky for the lives of people, it came to Tamil Nadu and has become the bane of people". It is scheduled to reopen in June and plans to double its capacity.

Let us not forget that for the second time in two months more than one lakh residents of this coastal town have taken to the streets with one clear demand: immediate and complete shutdown of Sterlite.

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