A noisy, two-hour protest was held outside India House by campaign groups on Saturday, seeking an inquiry by the Theresa May government into alleged violations by Vedanta Resources, while the opposition Labour sought its delisting from the London stock exchange.
The protest was called by groups such as Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK, Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle, South Asia Solidarity Group, Tamil Solidarity, Parai Voice of Freedom and Veera Tamilar Munnani, who previously held protests in London against the company.
Calling for the delisting of the company termed “rogue” from the stock exchange, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “The news from Tamil Nadu that 13 people protesting against Vedanta have been killed is shocking and demands action”.
“This is a major multinational company that for years has operated illegal mining concerns, trashing the environment and forcibly evicting local people. Campaigners and international NGOs like Amnesty International have accused Vedanta of a string of human rights and environmental abuses in India, Zambia and across the globe.
“After the massacre of the protestors this week, regulators must now take action. Vedanta must be immediately delisted from the London Stock Exchange, and prevent further reputational damage to London’s financial markets from this rogue corporation,” he added.
The groups had protested with traditional Parai drummers on May 23 outside India House against the incidents in Tamil Nadu, calling on the May government to launch an inquiry into the alleged “multiple legal, environmental and human rights violations by Vedanta Resources”.
Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta said: “For 15 years since Vedanta’s London listing we have been warning the British government that this criminal company is undermining democracy across India and in Zambia whilst gaining a ‘cloak of respectability’ from London.”
“This corporate massacre on a peaceful environmental movement must be the last straw. The UK government must now investigate and de-list this company.”
Karthik Kamalakannan from Tamil People in UK added: “It is disgusting to learn that a British company has put its profits above human cries for safe air to breathe and water to drink. We are hugely shocked that sniper style shooters were employed to save this criminal company”.
The groups said in a statement that Sterlite was the first company set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal in India before he launched Vedanta Resources on the London Stock Exchange in 2003, where it is now a multi-national FTSE 250 company with operations across India and Africa.