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‘Loud’ Demonstration Planned At Tycoon Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources’ Final Company Meet In UK

LONDON – An activist group in the UK is planning to stage a “loud” demonstration outside the final annual general meeting of Indian mining tycoon Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources here on Monday to demand justice for the 13 protesters killed in a police shooting at the company’s copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, India, in May.

Foil Vedanta, a grassroots activist group centred in London, also blames the City of London Corporation and UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which will be formally delisted from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on October 1.

“We cannot let Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal escape accountability and justice in the UK, under whose jurisdiction he has committed widespread financial, human rights and environmental crimes,” said Foil Vedanta’s Samarendra Das, who is the primary author of a new report titled ‘Vedanta’s Billions’.

The report will be handed to the FCA as part of a series of protests on Monday, calling on the UK’s financial watchdog to investigate the company.

“The FCA and City of London must now initiate proceedings against Vedanta or remain complicit in enabling and mitigating these abuses,” he said.

The report is a summary of legal judgments against Vedanta across its operations, holding the company responsible for “abusive modus operandi” due to “illegal mining in Goa, pollution and tax evasion in Zambia, as well as illegal expansion and pollution in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu”.

“Vedanta’s track record of human rights, environmental and financial violations, together with its already complicated financial structure, strongly suggests that delisting is part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations,” the report claims.

It alleges that the delisting follows the police shooting which killed 13 people, including women and children, on May 22 this year – their 100th day of protest against pollution by Vedanta’s copper smelter at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.

“The killing is being dubbed a ‘corporate massacre’ and led to the closure of the Sterlite copper plant. Vedanta’s delisting plans were announced shortly afterwards amidst global protests against the company,” the report concludes.

British MP Hywel Williams, who was handed a copy of the report, said, “This is a deeply concerning and disturbing report. I will be taking note of its findings and seeking to ensure that MPs, policymakers and the Westminster government are informed of its findings”.

“The report once again emphasises the need for action by UK authorities to investigate and regulate London-listed corporations that carry out illegal and immoral acts overseas,” Williams said.

Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal is set to take the LSE-listed company private from Monday, after the company’s family-owned trust Volcan Investments had got the go-ahead for the move from minority shareholders in early September.

Agarwal has previously stated that the buy-out of the London listing was intended to simplify the company’s structure and claimed that the liquidity of Indian markets meant that the need for a separate London listing was no longer critical.

In a video message on Twitter soon after the deaths in Thoothikudi, he had described the incident as “absolutely unfortunate” and expressed “full sympathy” with the families of those who killed in the protests.

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