Section 144 imposed in Thoothukudi after protests against Sterlite Industries

NHRC Notices to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, DGP Over Deaths in Anti-Sterlite Protest

Meanwhile, Madras High Court's Madurai bench will deliver interim order on the ongoing construction of a new copper smelter by Sterlite industries in Thoothukudi today.

"This statement is like shedding crocodile tears", says Fathima Babu, one of the organisers of the Anti Killer Sterlite People's Movement. They hurled stones at the collector's office, he said in a statement. To disperse the protesters, the police opened fire, which led to the killings of 11 people.

They not only pelted policemen with stones but also set on fire their vehicles as well as those parked in the collectorate.

The government will take "all steps possible to resolve the problem at the Sterlite factory through legal means".

The chief minister has also announced a compensation of 10 lakh rupees (16,000 USA dollars) for the families of each of the deceased. "The government requests the people to hold their peace till such time", it said.

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Sterlite Copper released a statement expressing "sorrow and regret" at the incidents during the protest on Tuesday.

"We had been receiving information from the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam (trade union) a week ago about possible violence by some groups". Stalin, who was to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Janata Dal-Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister on Wednesday, said he has cancelled his Bengaluru visit, and would head for Tuticorin to take stock of the situation.

The 100-day long protest has been supported by several celebrities including Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. The National Human Rights Commission also issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary and the state police chief, and asked for a response within two weeks, ANI reported. The government committed a "Himalayan blunder" by handling the protest with "guns and teargas shells", he said, adding at least a minister accompanied by the district collector should have spoken to the agitators.

Sterlite approached the appellate authority after the pollution control board refused to renew the licence to operate the plant due to shortcomings in efforts to control environmental damage.

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