Vedanta shares drop 6% after Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court issues interim stay on expansion of Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi

Demonstrations against the copper plant, one of India's biggest, have been going on for more than three months, with protesters alleging that it is a major source of pollution and risk to fisheries.

Thousands of protestors assembled for hours in India's southern Tamil Nadu to demand the closure of a British-owned copper plant due to worries over pollution, Agence France-Presse reports.

It was not immediately clear if the dead person and the injured were protesters who had been shot by police.

On Tuesday, protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police as they stormed the district government headquarters and an apartment block for Vedanta employees, the police and a company official said. A bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth passed the order staying construction of Vedanta's (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) second unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu. "Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?"

"Yes, the situation is tense but it is under control", a senior police officer said.

Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths "a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". The government committed a "Himalayan blunder" by handling the protest with 'guns and teargas shells, ' he said, adding at least a Minister accompanied by the district Collector should have spoken to the agitators. "The postmortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today". "Sterlite Copper plant is non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate", Sterlite said in a late night statement said.

The plant was also briefly shut in March 2013 after a suspected gas leak left hundreds of local residents struggling to breath and suffering from nausea and throat infections, according to AFP. Even after heavy police force was deployed in the region, protests and violence continued.

A spokeswoman for Vedanta Resources said it had witnessed the deaths at the protest "with great sorrow and regret".

Most of the injured are civilians but 36 policemen also suffered injuries of various kinds in mob fury, official sources said.

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