With the Vedanta Sterlite Copper smelter case coming up for hearing in the Supreme Court in January next year, anti-Sterlite agitators are upping the ante not just to prevent the reopening of the plant, but are also demanding its permanent closure.

The agitators are planning to stage a major protest show on December 12, 2022, in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, calling for a permanent closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant through a Special Act of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The demonstration will be held outside the District Collector’s office.

They are also demanding strict action against all the officials involved in the Thoothukudi shooting as per the Commission of Inquiry report of the retired high court judge Aruna Jagadeesan. Twelve people were killed in the Thoothukudi police firing on May 22, 2018, with one more dying the following day.

The anti-Sterlite activists led by Fatima Babu, Merina Prabhu, Hari Raghavan,

Krishnamoorthy etc., are also inviting support from political leaders, other associations, bishops and parish priests to strengthen the protest movement. Merina Prabhu’s post is urging people “unite in charity”.

Stories have also started reappearing in social media calling for organising a protest march and a 100-day rally protest from January, according to a police source. A Facebook page named “Makkal Adhikaram-Thoothukudi” is said to be inciting people to organise another rally in front of the District Collector’s office on December 12, 2022.

WhatsApp groups that have remained silent for four years are up and running again and carrying out complaints against the Sterlite plant to the state administration. Social media posts in the name of “Kolathur” Gandhi have been doing the rounds. It is calling for the dismantling of the Sterlite plant and the redistribution of the land.

However, large groups of people from various communities of Thoothukudi including those injured in the firing incident in 2018 have petitioned to the Thoothukudi District Collector seeking immediate intervention to prevent the proposed rally planned by the anti-Sterlite groups on December 12, 2022, to ensure law and order in the district.

They have been insisting the Sterlite issue to be settled legally at the Supreme Court and not by violent means as has been threatened by the anti-Sterlite protesters.

It is also learnt that Senthil Raj, Thoothukudi Collector, had met the leaders of the anti-Sterlite groups and other involved stakeholders on Friday before he met the media, advising the anti-Sterlite petitioners planning to submit petitions on Monday,

December 12 not to gather more than 50 to 60 members and instructed them to disperse immediately after submitting a petition at the District Collectorate. He has also advised public not to panic and refrain from circulating any social media messages on Sterlite issue or participate in the proposed rally. He added any untoward incident will hamper the growth of Thoothukudi.

The new agitations against the Sterlite plant are reminiscent of the protests that erupted in 2018.




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