Deadly protests in India spark suspension of copper smelting plant's expansion

Rahul Gandhi considered the shootings to be “state-sponsored terrorism”

Amid the ongoing anti-Sterlite protest, Supreme Court lawyer, GS Mani on Thursday filed a writ petition in the court seeking registration of an FIR and investigation by the CBI against Thoothukudi Collector, Superintendent of Police and other police officials.

Sterlite Industries is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, a metals and mining conglomerate founded by Anil Aggarwal. Another person was killed on Wednesday in fresh firing while hundreds of injured were admitted to hospitals.

Two environment ministry officials with knowledge of the deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the company was keen not to have the public consultation when it applied for the clearance for expansion. This, a fallout of the violent protests. Yesterday, DMK leader Stalin, who was holding a protest outside Tamil Nadu secretariat, was also detained by the police. "Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?"

The plant, about 600 kilometres (375 miles) south of Tamil Nadu's state capital Chennai, is now closed as Vedanta's Sterlite Copper subsidiary seeks a new licence so it can be expanded. "A frustrated Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi are trying to create more divisions in the society to regain their lost support", RSS national joint secretary Manmohan Vaidya said.

In response, Palaniswami tweeted, "It was a planned move by the DMK to protest outside my office".

The DMK had on Tuesday called for an all-party protest at all the district headquarters on May 25 to condemn the police firing in Tuticorin district. "Therefore clearly, they were incited into this by nefarious elements", Ramnath said in an interview to Business Today.

Protesters stormed the office of the top local administrator and set it ablaze after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the smelting plant. "The Chief Minister should own up moral responsibility for the deaths and step down".

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The Tamil Nadu government said that the police had to take action "under unavoidable circumstances" to bring the violence under control.

The expansion of the plant, activists argue, will only add to the environmental damage and health risks.

The plant, about 375 miles (600km) south of Tamil Nadu's state capital Chennai, is now shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site.

Vedanta had earlier said the protests were based on "false allegations", and that it plans to double capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year.

Back in 2013 locals said they suffered from nausea and throat infections from alleged gas leaks at the plant.

Tamil Nadu is one of India's most prosperous and industrialised states but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed.

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