Families and activists demand justice against massacre by police in Tamil Nadu

New Delhi, May 25, 2023 (PPI-OT): On the fifth anniversary of the Thoothukudi massacre in Southern India, families and activists call for justice for those who lost their lives as a result of the violence. On 22nd May 2018, Murugeswari Muthupandi watched her 20-year-old son Karthi leave their home for the last time. He planned to join the crowds marching against a copper smelting plant linked to air and water pollution in the nearby town of Thoothukudi, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. “I called him around 11am, but he did not answer. I then found out he had been admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds to his head,” recalls Murugeswari.

Karthi died later that evening with his mother at his side. “I saw him die in such agony and pain with my own eyes,” she says, “no mother should be in this situation.” Karthi had marched alongside thousands of people towards the District Collector’s office in Thoothukudi town to mark the 100th day of peaceful demonstrations against Sterlite Copper – India’s second largest copper smelting plant. Residents had concerns that the plant owned by Vedanta Limited, a subsidiary of by London-based Vedanta Resources, was causing health problems and environmental damage.

But as the crowd headed towards the Thoothukudi Collectorate, police attacked the demonstrators, firing live ammunition into the crowds, killing at least 11 people – with more than 100 others injured. Another five people later died as a result of their injuries. Almost all those killed by firing were found to have gunshot injuries on their faces.

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