While the fate of the plant has to be decided on a scientific evaluation of whether it is flouting pollution norms or not, the question immediately at hand is whether police and administration should have managed yesterday's protest in a more sophisticated way, averting the high death toll.
Opposition parties slammed the government and criticised the use of force against the protesters.
Residents of the port city of Thootukudi, located at the tip of the Indian subcontinent, and environmentalists have been demonstrating for more than three months against the copper plant, one of India's biggest, alleging that it is a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries.
The probe will take into account the "law and order incidents following the siege of the District Collectorate by thousands of persons violating prohibitory orders", an official release said.
Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police, Palaniswami said in a statement. "My thoughts & prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured".
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Actor-turned-politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, who have been voicing their support for the anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi (also known as Tuticorin), joined those protesting against the police brutality which left 12 people dead since 22 May.
In a repeat of the Dera protests in Panchkula, police appear to have failed to follow standard operating procedures for crowd control, and then fallen back on brutal tactics in the hour of crisis.
Police said almost 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant. Only that they wanted a cleaner environment?
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued a notice to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary and Director general of police (DGP) over the police firing.
"We would like to restart the plant as soon as possible, in a peaceful manner", P. Ramnath, chief executive of Vedanta Ltd's copper business, told Reuters.