With Thoothukudi on the boil following police firing on protesters against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper plant, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday found fault with the handling of the situation, saying authorities "probably failed to foresee" the turn of events.
Seeking a report from the Tamil Nadu government and police on the police firing on protesters, the NHRC said the agitation against the "polluting" plants was on for the last over three months but they failed to take effective precautionary measures to avert any untoward incident.
"It appears that the authorities probably failed to foresee the tragic violence which took place. Keeping in view the simmering situation, effective precautionary measures and deployment of the adequate number of police personnel may have possibly averted the unfortunate incident," the NHRC said in a statement.
The NHRC also said it appeared from several media reports, including those on news channels, that the police "resorted to firing on unarmed protesters without following the Standard Operating Procedure", which tantamount to serious violation of human rights. "It is a matter of concern," it said.
At least 11 people were killed in police firing on Tuesday when the peaceful demonstrations so far against Sterlite turned violent on the 100th day after police prevented them from moving forward.
Quoting media reports, the NHRC said several NGOs had earlier rallied people demanding the closure of the copper smelting unit, which they said was polluting the environment and causing ailments in the neighbourhood. The reports also mentioned that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is not renewing the license of the plant, which is closed since March.