Thoothukudi (Tuticorin): The Tamil Nadu district of Thoothukudi appeared to be limping back to normalcy on Friday, with some shops opening for the first time in three days and buses resuming services after environmental protests against a Sterlite Copper smelter ended with 13 people being killed in police firing.

People in the port town of Thoothukudi—also called Tuticorin—have been demanding the closure of the Sterlite Industries unit for the past 22 years. The protests intensified in March and peaked in May, with police opening fire at protestors on 22 May. The toll in the police firing stands at 13, according to the state government. A total of 102 people have been injured, 19 of them severely.

Two wards in the government hospital are filled with people who have suffered bullet injuries and multiple fractures. The critically injured are being treated at the intensive care unit.

The firing has sparked outrage in the state, with people alleging that those who lost their lives were shot above the waist and without any warning.

Acting on a petition, the Madras high court ordered the bodies to be preserved till the end of the month. Post mortems have so far been completed on seven bodies.

One of those who was killed with a bullet injury on his chest is K. Glaston, a 40-year-old fisherman who had gone with his family members for the protest march for the first time on Tuesday.

“We marched towards the collector’s office and as we entered I heard gunshots. Within minutes, amid the gunshots and the commotion, I fell down in extreme pain, only to later realise that bullets had hit my left leg," recounts R. Nelson, who is recovering at the Government Hospital.

After the police firing at the collector’s office in the morning, police entered the fishermen’s hamlet in Threspuram, where they started beating up people and also shot J. Jansi, alleged her relative J. Johnson.

Jansi, 47, was killed while she was returning from her daughter Anabarasi’s house, after giving her the fish curry that she had cooked, said a grieving Rosamma Fernando, her sister.

Sandeep Nanduri, who took charge as the district collector on Thursday, refused to comment on the police firing as an inquiry was on.

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