05/29/2018, 10.36
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Tamil Nadu closes a copper foundry after the killing of 13 demonstrators

Four Catholics among the deceased. The fake news of the death of a priest who is only wounded goes viral on social media. The protests took place on May 22 in front of the District Executor's office. The company Sterlite Copper is owned by the mining giant Vedanta Resources. The plant extracts 400 thousand tons of copper every year; it is accused of causing pollution and increasing deadly diseases like cancer.

Tuticorin (AsiaNews) - The government of Tamil Nadu, in southern India, has today ordered the closure of a copper smelting plant in the city of Tuticorin (or Thoothukudi in Hindi). The decision comes after 100 days of protests by the local population due to pollution caused by the company. The demonstrations ended on May 22 in a peaceful march of about 20 thousand people, which on which the police opened fire. The toll from what has been called a "mass murder" was 13 killed demonstrators, including four Catholics, and the wounding of many others, including a priest, Fr. Leo Jayaseelan (see photo 2).

The violence last week occurred in front of the District Executor's office. The inhabitants of the town, located about 600 km from the capital Chennai, were protesting against the company Sterlite Copper owned by the mining giant Vedanta Resources, led by the Anglo-Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal. The area is mainly Christian and there are 19 parishes around the establishment, which have about 100 thousand faithful.

The protests were sparked by, the company’s seeking a renewal of its license, and double the annual production of 400 thousand tons. Ever since it opened its doors 25 years ago in 1994, the company has been the subject of the criticism of the local population for the contamination of groundwater and air, due to the dispersion of toxic fumes. According to experts and environmentalists, the spill of harmful substances has increased the incidence of fatal diseases such as cancer, respiratory and heart problems.

Meanwhile, the conditions of Fr. Jayaseelan, 70, parish priest of the village of Thailapuram, are improving, following the fake announcement of his death on social media yesterday (see photo 3). On May 22, he was at the demonstration along with thousands of others, when he was hit by bullets fired by police. One of the bullets pierced his right side. Operated at the American Mission Hospital, he is in recovery. A journalist from the Deccan Chronicle, who visited him in the hospital, said that he would never have expected such a reaction from the police against peaceful demonstrators.

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