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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 24 New Delhi June 2, 2018

Against Neo-Liberal Violence

Saturday 2 June 2018, by Arup Kumar Sen

COMMUNICATION

Violence against people has become an organic part of the neo-liberal paradigm of governance in contemporary India. The recent state violence against anti-Vedanta protesters in Tamil Nadu is an exemplary case of such violence. The death toll in ‘police action’ against the protesters is reported to be 13 in number. We are yet to know how many people suffered injuries. The state onslaught against the people took place on the 100th day of protests against the Sterlite Copper Plant of the Vedanta group. According to testimonies of local people, “they heard more than 40 to 50 rounds of gunfire rained upon them by the Police”. To put it in the words of a PUCL Communication: “Nume-rous video recordings as also eye witness accounts state that the Police used professional Police sharpshooters, standing atop police vehicles, in mufti, to shoot directly at people leading the march, aiming to kill them. This much is also made clear by the fact that most of those killed seemed to have bullet wounds in the top torso or part of the body above the waist.”

It may be mentioned in this connection that Sterlite plant was allotted land in Maharashtra in 1992, but it was forced to shift its plant to Tamil Nadu due to massive protest by the people of Ratnagiri. Reportedly, the Sterlite project received environmental clearance in 1995 even before the Environmental Impact Assess-ment (EIA). The present protest movement expressed concerns over pollution and health hazards connected with the recent expansion of the Sterlite Copper smelter plant of the Vedanta group in Tuticorin.

It is ironic that the day after the police onslaught on the protesters on May 22, 2018, a two-judge Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court gave an interim order to stay the expansion of the Sterlite plant.

We condemn the brutal methods adopted by the state power in Tamil Nadu to crush the people’s protests against the global corporate giant, Vedanta group.

Arup Kumar Sen

Kolkata

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