Five killed in police firing as anti-Sterlite rally turns violent in Thoothukudi

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THOOTHUKUDI, MAY 22,
Five persons were killed in police firing and hundreds of protesters and policemen injured in clashes during a rally demanding the closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi in south Tamil Nadu.
When the protesters started pelting stones, the police resorted to a lathi charge. When the demonstrators continued with the pelting of stones, the police resorted to firing of tear gas shells. Police said that when the situation went out of control, they opened fire.
In the melee, photo journalists were also injured. The Hindu news photographer N. Rajesh was roughed up by some rallyists. They snatched his camera and took away the memory card in it, threatening that the images in it would be erased. Later, they returned the memory card at the intervention of some persons.
The participants of the procession, which marched towards the Collectorate, toppled a police vehicle, torched many vehicles parked on the two-wheeler parking space and damaged as many as six four-wheelers belonging to the Revenue Department. They also damaged window panes of buildings.
Though the police claimed to have deployed as many as 2,500 personnel, the mob appeared to be stronger.Prohibitory orders were clamped under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the jurisdiction of Thoothukudi South and SIPCOT police stations. Collector N. Venkatesh had banned the assembly of five or more persons, rallies, public meetings, processions and carrying lethal weapons and flags of caste outfits and entry of hired vehicles with people for any kind of protest from other parts of Thoothukudi district or other districts.
The Thoothukudi Medical College hospital witnessed hectic activity from 11 a.m., as many people with multiple injuries were brought for treatment.
The casualty might go up to eight, including a woman, sources in the hospital said.
CM holds meeting
In a bid to ensure that the violence was brought under control and violators are booked, the State government held a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in Chennai. Following this, Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran is expected to visit the riot-hit harbour town in the evening.
Inspector General of Police (south zone) Shailesh Kumar Yadav and others are camping in Thoothukudi district.

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