Hundreds more arrested in Tamil-Nadu nuclear power protest

SP Udayakumar, right, and Justin Amalraj Leon in Idinthakarai village. The Australian photo.

Protest leader Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, threatened with sedition charges, sends letter from besieged activists behind police lines.

Action alert from Michael Mariotte, Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

March 23, 2012

Dear Friends,

Dr. S.P. Udayakumar (Kumar to his friends, and I consider myself one of them) is a longtime leader in the peaceful resistance to nuclear power in India, as well as a leader in the NIRS/WISE international network. The Indian government has threatened to charge him with terrorism and “waging war” for his role in leading the nonviolent citizens movement against operation of the nearly-completed Kudankulam nuclear reactors in the Tamil Nadu section of southern India.

He is currently with 10,000 other people protesting near the reactor site. Some are on a hunger strike. Some 10,000 police have surrounded the protestors and reportedly are blocking the media from entering the area.

Dr. Udayakumar was able to get a moving letter to members of the NIRS/WISE network yesterday describing the current situation at the protest site. You can read it below, and also get links to TV interviews with him and other information.

Now he and other protest leaders are asking for international support. Let’s give it to them! Please help by sending a letter to top Indian officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, here.

We’re demanding that the Kudankulam reactors be stopped, and that the protestors be left alone.

Our friends at have prepared a background paper (pdf file) on the Russian-made Kudankulam reactors and the long struggle to stop them–a struggle that has intensified greatly since Fukushima.

Earlier today, for example, at least 500 people, including local political leaders–some reports say as many as 3,000–were arrested in an attempt to march to the protest site.

Another attempt by more protestors to reach the site will be made Monday.

We are calling on every one of you, from every country, to act now to support these protesters and help stop these most dangerous Kudankulam reactors now, before they can begin operation.

Our movement is growing, across the U.S. and across the world. Thank you for all your help in making this happen. Please help it keep growing by making a small donation after you take action.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Idinthakarai Update from S. P. Udayakumar
March 22, 2012

The situation here is still grim. There are some 10,000 people from coastal and interior villages. Most of them are women including pregnant women and nursing women. I myself saw many nursing women feeding their babied sweetened water as there was no milk coming to the village. More people are coming by boats and on foot as the access roads are all blocked by police. There is no bus service to this place. There is no sanitary complex and women bear the brunt of it. No public health official has ever come to help the people.

Some 15 of us have been on indefinite hunger strike and no medical doctor has ever come here to check our health. The Dinamalam newspaper has reported today that we have all been eating heartily and pretending to be fasting. If this anti-Tamil newspaper can prove that there is a trace of food in my or Pushparayan’s stomach, we are ready to leave this protest. Otherwise, will they stop publishing this stupid paper? We are fighting for a cause not prostituting our soul like the Dinamalam does.

On March 21, my mother had received a phone call from one advocate by the name T. Udayakumar and he claimed he was calling from the DGP office in Chennai. He asked my mother to ask me to leave the protest so that all the cases against me would be dropped and I would get whatever I ask for. My mother told him that I was not a man of that nature and ended the conversation. That evening the Superintendent of Police of Tirunelveli District called me on my mobile and asked me to surrender alone so that people would not be affected. I told him that I was all ready for that but the people here at Idinthakarai also wanted to get arrested along with me and they would not let me go alone. I proposed to the SP to send enough number of buses and two police officers so that there would not be any stampede or tussle and we all would board the buses peacefully and go wherever they wanted us to go. He would not accept that proposition and said in anger: “This is the last time I talk to you.” There ended our conversation.

That night the police officer who was on security duty at our SACCER Matriculation School outside Nagercoil town had received a phone call from the Kanyakumari District SP office to go away from the school. Then a group of vandals, obviously with the blessings of the police, had entered the school and destroyed it very badly. The compound wall was completely demolished and the gate damaged. They ransacked the school bus after tearing down the car shed’s iron shutters. They had entered the KG classrooms and destroyed all the small little chairs which my children were using to sit on. They had broken all the tables and chairs and I do not understand why they punished my little children like this. The vandals had entered our school library and destroyed all the 12 glass bookshelves and tables and threw away the books. My 250 children are all avid readers and have been using our library extensively. This reminds me of the burning of the Public Library at Jaffna a few years ago.

The governments and the police treat and speak of me as if I were Osama bin Laden and our people some mindless terrorists. We resent this inhuman and brutal treatment . Electricity, water, milk and other essentials have been cut for two days; people cannot go out of and come into Idinthakarai as there is brutal police control. We are surrounded by police and I truly feel like I am at Mullivaickal. We are a group of simple people who have been fighting nonviolently and democratically against an untested foreign reactor with all kinds of problems and hiccups. We have not done any harm to anybody or anybody’s property in our eight-month long struggle. The whole country is proud of our people.

The stalemate continues. There are protests happening all over the country and the state of Tamil Nadu. Whoever is farsighted enough to worry about the future of India’s “ordinary citizens,” our natural resources, the well-being of our progeny, the possibility of losing our freedom to the New Nuclear East India Companies and most importantly, the democratic fabric of our country support us. We thank them and you for standing with us. We are ready for any brutal police action but will not give up our nonviolent noncooperation campaign.

S.P. Udayakumar