A statement issued by Chief Minister E K Palaniswami Tuesday evening cited nine deaths while the condolence message to victims from the Governor's office said there were 11 deaths.
The killings of protestors have evoked a sharp response from the opposition with MDMK chief Vaiko likening it to Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Meanwhile, the protests which have been on for almost 100 days, took a turn for the worse when protestors began ransacking and putting vehicles and public property on fire. Protests have continued, with one person reportedly killed by a rubber bullet and dozens injured on May 23.
Locals have been agitating for over 100 days now demanding closure of the Vedanta group copper plant over pollution concerns.
The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Wednesday demanded the suspension of the police personnel who were present at the scene of the firing in Thoothukudi on May 22. But the agitation against the copper giant is not new, it has been ongoing since the factory was first set up in 1996.
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Residents and environmental activists say emissions from the plant, India's second biggest, are polluting the air and water, affecting people's health. "Amma went to the Supreme Court and the case is still going on", he added.
The company's compliance officer replied "it is with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed yesterday's incidents around the protests at Tuticorin. The Company has appealed to the Government and authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", Vedanta Ltd said in a regulatory filing to the BSE.
Asked about the pollution control board's objection to renewing the plant's licence, Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath said, "The reasons [for the objection] would be best known to them". The home ministry has taken cognisance of the situation and sought a report on the incident and the prevailing situation from the state government. The Basic Principles state that law enforcement officials shall "apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms", and that "whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved; (b) Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life". Several others detained too, ANI reported.
The comment was made in reference to a court-order that stopped his company from iron-ore mining activities in Goa and the Tuticorin protests. The findings of the investigation should be public and result in appropriate disciplinary action or prosecution.
"It's important that the Tamil Nadu authorities respond to protests in accordance with worldwide law, but they should also be addressing concerns raised about health and environmental harms", Ganguly said.