As witnesses and FIR contradict police version, a look at what really happened in Tuticorin’s anti-Sterlite protests

On May 22, the protest in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin reached a 100 days. They want Vedanta Limited’s business unit Sterlite copper plant to be shut because they say it is contaminating their groundwater bodies and causing serious health problems. They have been demanding this for two decades. But recently, the company announced an expansion. So this year, the protest intensified. Prohibitory orders were in place, so the police stopped them.

The people pelted stones, the police responded with tear gas. They kept regrouping and the police fired at them. The death toll is now in the double digits. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad blamed the state government. “Instead of using other means like lathicharge or water cannons which they could have, had they been alert, they straight away resorted to police firing. Action must be taken against the police officers,” he said. 

But the police say they had no option but to open fire because otherwise the protestors would have ransacked the district headquarters. Sterlite has faced opposition since 1993. The Madras High Court even ordered to shut it down once in 2010 but the Supreme Court put a stay on that. 

Twitter is comparing it with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The country is debating if excessive force was used on them. Because in a video released from the protest site, you can hear the policemen say, “at least one person should die”.

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