Anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin: CBI files FIR against Tamil Nadu Police, revenue officials over killing of 13 agitators

FP Staff
The protests against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper Smelter in Tuticorin had been going on for years, but after they gained momentum in February, 13 people were killed in police firing and hundred were injured on 22 May.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday registered an FIR against the Tamil Nadu Police and revenue officials in the Tuticorin firing case during the protests in May against the Sterlite Copper Smelter.

The protests against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper Smelter in Tuticorin had been going on for years, but they gained momentum in February. As many as 13 people were killed in the police firing and hundred were injured in the protests on 22 May that ensued over local residents demanding the closure of a copper plant of the Vedanta Group in Tuticorin €" also called Thoothukudi €" over pollution concerns. Soon after, the Tamil Nadu government ordered the permanent closure of the Sterlite plant.

The CBI has charged police and revenue officials with criminal conspiracy, robbery, dacoity and criminal intimidation. The FIR also mentions the charges of a public servant disobeying law with intent to cause injury and framing incorrect document with intent to cause injury. They have been booked under sections 166, 167, 392, 395 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, the Tuticorin Police had only named protesters in their FIR, which many had dubbed false.

Nearly two months after 13 people were killed in the police shooting in Tutocorin, the Coordinating Committee for People's Inquest into the Thoothukudi Police Firing €" a coalition of civil society groups in the state €" filed a 2,445-page report on the incident.

In its report, the civil society group said the Thoothukudi district administration was inept and had allowed the situation to escalate during the 22 May protests. It also said there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the police had indulged in stone-pelting to create chaos.

The Sterlite Copper unit began its operation in Tuticorin since its inception in 1997 and has been embroiled in controversies throughout. The last protests were triggered by a brownfield expansion of the plant, which would have doubled the capacity of the smelter to 8,00,000 tonnes per year. Protesters said the copper plant was responsible for the extreme pollution in the region, which included issues of disposal of copper waste and effluents from the unit, and demanded its permanent closure.

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