Police arresting Vedanta smelter protesters based on evidence – minister

CHENNAI (Reuters) – Police are only arresting people involved in protests against a copper smelter owned by Vedanta Resources where there is videographed evidence of them indulging in “anti-social” activities, a senior Tamil Nadu minister told Reuters. Police stand gurad outside a copper smelter controlled by London-listed Vedanta Resources in Thoothukudi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, May 28, 2018.
REUTERS/Sudarshan VaradhanMore than 100 people have been arrested, some in early morning and late night raids, since police opened fire on a crowd of protesters in southern India, killing 13, and some residents have complained they are being unfairly targeted. Many of those picked up in and around the port city of Thoothukudi have since been bailed, but the wave of arrests highlights the tensions that continue to fester despite the Tamil Nadu government’s order to permanently shut down the smelter, on environmental grounds, in the wake of the May 22 shootings.
“We have to take action against anti-social elements who indulged in violence and which has been captured on CCTV cameras,” D Jayakumar, a senior minister in the state, said. “The police are not going to go to your house, or a normal person’s house,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Family members and friends of three people who were arrested by the police in early morning raids told Reuters last week that they had not taken part in any violence. FILE PHOTO: Government officials seal a copper smelter controlled by London-listed Vedanta Resources in Thoothukudi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, May 28, 2018.
REUTERS/Sudarshan Varadhan/File Photo State Minister Jayakumar also said there was no question of engaging with London-listed Vedanta on reopening the copper smelter, and added that the shutdown would not have an impact on investment in the state. “Our stand is clear: the smelter will remain shut.
An isolated incident like this is not going to hit investments in the state, as we have good infrastructure and provide attractive tax incentives,” Jayakumar said. Tamil Nadu, home to more than 70 million people, is one of India’s most industrialised states, sometimes called the “Detroit of Asia”.
Companies including BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and Renault have factories in the state. Vedanta told Reuters in a statement last month that the smelter shutdown would impact “prospective investor sentiments for investment in the state”, and would lead to a rise in local copper prices.
File Photo: File People pelt stones during a protest against the construction of a copper smelter by Vedanta Resources from the road, in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, India in this still image from May 22, 2018 video footage. Video taken May 22, 2018.
ANI via REUTERS TV The company is preparing an appeal against the state government’s order to permanently shut the plant, sources have said, which could lead to a long-drawn out legal battle. .

 

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