Uneasy calm in TN town, toll mounts to 10

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Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu), May 23 (IANS) With the death toll in police firing rising to 10, an uneasy calm on Wednesday gripped Tamil Nadu’s port town Thoothukudi where widespread violence erupted a day earlier during protests against the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant.

Of the nearly 100 people injured, the condition of two was said to be critical in hospital. Families of the deceased staged noisy protests at the Thoothukdi government hospital opposing autopsy of the bodies.

Official reports, including information reaching the Tamil Nadu Police in Chennai, said the 10th person injured in police firing succumbed to his injuries late on Tuesday night.

Most of the injured are civilians but 36 policemen also suffered injuries of various kinds in mob fury, official sources said.

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Normal life in the town was virtually crippled on Wednesday, with shops and commercial establishments not opening for business. Educational institutions also remained closed.

Most people stayed indoors as the district administration announced that prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people that were imposed on Monday evening would remain in force till May 25.

District Collector N. Venkatesh said the prohibitory orders were extended in Vembar, Kulathur, Arumugamangalam, Vedanatham, Ottapidaram and Eppodum Vendran in Thoothukudi district.

Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed all over the town in large numbers.

“Yes, the situation is tense but it is under control,” a senior police officer said.

Police said they opened fire to quell arson and violence after the dragging agitation demanding a closure of the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant turned violent on Tuesday.

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Police said that thousands, under the banner of the Anti-Sterlite Movement, went on the rampage during a rally, torching police and other vehicles. Nine people died almost instantly in police firing.

–IANS

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