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, Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, May 22, 2018.
On Tuesday, the protest had entered its 100th day.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami defended the police response in a statement, citing "unavoidable circumstances" and blaming the protestors for resorting to "repeated violence".
Chief Minister Palanisamy, who also holds home portfolio, announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of the deceased, and ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
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Still, it was unclear how much further officials would be willing to go if the president remained unhappy. Neither will any Democrats, meaning the information will likely become instantly politicized.
In the latest development, security has been heightened in Tuticorin and Section 144 remains imposed in the area. Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town. On Tuesday, the protests flared with police telling PTI that 5000 people had gathered close to a local church and took out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant. Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Indian National Congress party, called the incident "state sponsored terrorism".
"Truth and reasoning have prevailed", said Fatima Babu, who had petitioned the court.
"Vedanta shall cease construction and all other activities on-site proposed Unit-II of the Copper Smelting Plant at Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) with immediate effect", the order from the Madras high court said. The company has appealed to government and authorities to ensure safety of our employees, facilities and surrounding communities.
The judge had then noted that the Sterlite had sought such protection from the collector in representation of April 9 and a reminder on April 16.