TUTICORIN, India, May 23, 2018 (AFP) – A protester was killed by a rubber bullet in a second day of clashes in southern India Wednesday, after 10 were shot dead when police opened fire on a rally demanding the closure of a copper plant, officials said.
Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd and sent volleys of live ammunition overhead, officials and witnesses said, after protesters in the port city of Tuticorin hurled home-made bombs and pelted stones at them.
“We fired live ammunition in the air to disperse the protesters. But the mob continued to pelt stones and bombs. They were setting fire to vehicles,” a police officer told AFP.
“We were forced to fire rubber bullets which unfortunately hit one man in the spine and he died,” he added. Another police officer at the scene also said that a 22-year-old man had died.
Police have faced intense criticism over their handling of the protests after they opened fire to disperse a crowd of several thousand on Tuesday, leaving 10 people dead and about 80 wounded.
The demonstrators are demanding the closure of a copper plant on the outskirts of Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu state owned by British-based mining giant Vedanta Resources which they say is causing environmental damage.
Traders shut down shops on Wednesday as authorities clamped a curfew on various parts of the city, expecting fresh violence.
Witnesses said the demonstrators also set fire to a police bus and ransacked a liquor shop in the melee. TV footage showed police in riot gear patrolling streets littered with stones and burnt tyres.