Indian women released on bail as Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant prepares to go on-line

Sundari and her children at home in Idinthakarai. Photo by Veena M.

Three women from the village of Idinthakarai in Tamil Nadu, all leaders in the mass movement opposed to the start-up of the joint Russian-Indian nuclear power project at the southern tip of India, have been released on bail.  Xavieramma, Sundari and Selvi had been denied bail and charged with various crimes including sedition following their arrests on September 10. They are now ordered to report regularly to a police station in Madurai, over 200 kilometers away from their homes and families.  Before returning to Madurai, they were able to spend a few days in Idinthakarai. This photo and the following report were originally posted at

End of a Long Wait

by Anitha.S ( in conversation with Sundari on 15th December 2012 )

I am the 7 year old from Idinthakarai village near the sea. Today morning I woke up with a smile.You may wonder what is so special about a boy smiling in the morning. Yes, there is something really special as I have woken up with a heavy heart every single day since September 10,2012. More than 90 days of constant anxiety because my mother was taken away and jailed. For having gathered with the whole village and other villages to say NO to the toxic Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. I just cannot understand what is wrong with what we did. We only demand to be given assurance about the safety of the Nuclear Power Plant when all the world says and knows it is not safe. And to explain what will happen to our lives and our sea based livelihoods when all know that the Nuclear plant will kill the sea and its life. That is all we are asking. I know that we have asked for some essential documents that will explain all this, but the Government has not even answered our basic questions. That is why we are struggling to see that the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant will not be opened.

I have learnt two words since my gentle and loving mother was arrested that day. Sedition and anti- national assemblage. I know we are a Country. I say aloud the pledge everyday at the School Assembly- “India is my country.”. When my mother got charged with assembling for anti-national activities, I found it strange. I remember how she along with her friends Xavier Ammal, Melrit, Inita and Selvi would shout loud how to reinstate Democracy in India. When they say India Jananayakam, I could feel the power in their voices. Then how can they be anti-national?

Sedition is a word that scares me with its meaning. I do not claim to understand it fully. My sister says that it has been abolished in many countries including United Kingdom whose laws we are still following. Her friend in school who travelled to many parts of Kerala for meetings says that India, in spite of being independent is still following many old and inhuman laws which are against people. She says India is a democratic country – Of , For and By the People. Then how can such a huge project spending so much of money be imposed on us without our consent? My little mind has been crowded with all these thoughts and new ideas since my mother was taken away.

All through these months while listening to the discussions and partaking in events, I had only one question- When will my mother return? I was afraid to ask this aloud as I was afraid of the answer. What if someone says never. I could understand it every time we heard that she has been taken to Valliyur Court and charged with new crimes. So I remained quiet and remembered my mother’s advise to be patient whenever I hurried with my activities. She would say in her strong and calm voice “ Patience, Saheer, patience”. So I waited patiently for the news that she would come back to us, free and comforting as always.

And yesterday night she came home ! I was asleep and could not receive her. But today I woke up with a warmth that she is home. I could hear the vessels clanking, water being poured in the toilet and also the smell of tea- all the small tell-tale signs that your mother is there at home. I realize that this must be one of the best things- to wake up to hear the sounds and smells of a secure, safe home with parents and sister. I know that today will be a busy day with almost everyone in the village coming to see my mother. I feel proud of her in spite of all the pain and anger I have felt over the months.

I am proud because my mother along with all others are fighting for the health and welfare of all of us in this region. She always worries about the Unamatta kozhanthaikal ( Deformed children) that exposure to Kathirveezhchai ( Radiation ) will create. What a term ! I have seen my sister’s friend’s brother who lives close by- he must be my age but has little brain development. Sometimes when he gets excited, he will bang his head on the floor or wall and cry loud. His young mother is forever afraid that he will injure himself fatally. He is a very loving child but gets angry when we do not play with him. My mother says that having such children is the greatest curse for a woman- how can she not care for her own baby born like this for no fault of hers or the child’s? I am so scared when I think of the future if the KKNPP is started. Will we have to see the suffering of more children and parents who have to bring up such deformed lives?

My mother held me close to her when I went up to her and asked if I had been good. I said yes loud before my sister came in and gave her a detailed account of how lazy I have been, how I have not eaten or taken bath and so on. I wanted to tell her that it was only when her thoughts came in that I became slow. How I missed even her constant nagging to brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my feet and eat well ! But I knew I would be disturbing her focus by saying all that. I realize that for some more time I will have to wake up without her at home as she will go away on Monday to Madurai. But I am so relieved that she and her friends are no longer in jail. They can be a bit more free, travel back home once in a while and stay with us. Is that not a great step forward?

The more I know that my mother and her 2 friends are being projected as causing trouble, the more I think of the reasons. And the more I know the reasons, the more I am willing to give up my comfort of having a mother at home. If by staying away from us, we will be able to get closer to the cause of the struggle- to shut down the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant and lead a safe, secure life, I am prepared to let my mother go and wait.