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Anti-Sterlite protests: MK Stalin protests police action while CM blames Opposition for Thoothukudi violence

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05/24/2018 | 05:43pm CEST

CHENNAI/ TUTICORIN: DMK working president MK Stalin was today detained while holding a protest at the state secretariat against Tuticorin police firings which claimed 11 lives, even as Chief Minister K Palaniswami blamed opposition parties for "instigating" violence in the port city.

Demanding the resignation of Palaniswami and sacking of state police chief T K Rajendran over large-scale arson and violence in Tuticorin, about 600 km from state capital Chennai, Stalin staged a sit-in with party MLAs at Fort St George complex.

Even after police removed the agitators from the secretariat premises, they continued the protest at Rajaji Salai, right in front of Fort St George.

Raising slogans like "we want justice" and "shame on the government," the protesters demanded immediate resignation of the Palaniswami government.

Violent protests erupted in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday as locals took to streets demanding closure of a copper factory of the Vedanta group over pollution concerns.

Though no fresh violence was reported from anywhere in the city today, it remained on edge.

Some reports said a man injured in police firing had died but there was no official word on it.

Unconfirmed reports said cases were registered against Stalin, actor-politician Kamal Haasan and MDMK leader Vaiko for allegedly violating prohibitory orders during their visit to Tuticorin yesterday.

The government yesterday ordered suspension of internet services in Tuticorin and adjoining districts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari for five days to prevent spread of rumours through social media and help restore peace.

Palaniswami, meanwhile, broke his silence over the Tuticorin incidents, and blamed the opposition parties and anti-social elements for the violence that brought down the city to its knees.

When asked who gave the orders for police firing, TN CM EPS said "When someone hits you, you naturally tend to defend yourselves; so on such situations, no one acts in a pre-planned manner." @NewIndianXpress

-- T Muruganandham (@muruga_TNIE) May 24, 2018

Terming the incidents as "unfortunate," he condoled the deaths and said all past agitations for the closure of the plant were peaceful.

"This time around it (protest) turned violent. It was due to instigation by some political parties and owing to infiltration by anti-social elements," Palaniswamy, who is under relentless attack from the Opposition, said.

TN CM EPS some anti-social elements intruded into the agitation on May 22 and attacked the police; torched the police vehicles; under tense situation; police resorted to firing ; the firing was not pre-plannned @NewIndianXpress

-- T Muruganandham (@muruga_TNIE) May 24, 2018

Recalling steps taken by the AIADMK governments for the closure of the plant, Palaniswami said the "deliberate" violence was meant "to bring disrepute to the government and put it under pressure".

He said the state government was making efforts for the closure of the plant since 2013, when late J Jayalalithaa was the chief minister.

"As far as Amma's government is concerned, we respect people's feelings," he said, adding all legal steps were under way to shut the Sterlite plant, and cases were pending before the Supreme Court and High Court.

Tuticorin witnessed large-scale violence and arson on Tuesday which led to the killing of 10 people in police firing.

Protests erupted once again yesterday, prompting police to open fire again, killing one person.

Stalin said DMK and ally Congress's MLAs boycotted today's meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the state legislature ahead of the start of the Assembly session on May 29.

The Leader of Opposition assailed the chief minister for not visiting the families of the victims of police firing, and said the shifting of the district collector and police chief hardly mattered, as it did not amount to any action against them.

"The Chief Minsiter is not bothered about the people. He should immediately resign. Director General of Police T K Rajendran must also be removed or he should resign," Stalin said, adding Congress MLAs made these demands at the BAC meeting and walked out.

"The government is in limbo," he said, and demanded a judicial inquiry into the incidents by a sitting judge of the Madras High Court.

The government had yesterday constituted an inquiry commission headed by retired HC judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe the circumstances leading to violence and subsequent police firing.

(c) 2018, Express Network Pvt Ltd. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers

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