Koodankulam fasters relent; government lifts siege of villagers

Bernard Pierre Wolff / Getty Images

Copyright © 2012 The Telegraph, Calcutta, India
Chennai, March 27:
The hunger strike by the protesters against the Kudankulam nuclear power station was withdrawn this evening.

Members of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, led by convener S.P. Udayakumar, had been on hunger strike at Indinthakarai village, 3km from the plant, for the last 10 days after the Jayalalithaa government announced on March 16 its decision to have the plant commissioned.
The state government had also clamped prohibitory orders in four villages around the plant and arrested 80 people for staging a roadblock near the site.
The protest movement suffered a setback after Madras High Court refused to lift the prohibitory orders.
Normal life in the four villages had been crippled as the villagers did not move out fearing arrest.
Public support that the protesters had enjoyed since August also seemed to have weakened following repeated power cuts in the state.
The Kudankulam project is meant to boost power supply in Tamil Nadu.
Left with no choice, Udayakumar raised the white flag yesterday and said he was ready for talks with the state government.
The Jayalalithaa government deputed the district administration to speak to the protesters on Tuesday after which Udayakumar announced the end of the fast.
“Since the authorities have invited us for talks and have agreed to withdraw the prohibitory orders, we are calling off the fast. But our agitation against the plant will continue in other forums,” Udayakumar, who looked weak after the 10 days of hunger strike, said.
Two of the 20 protesters had to be hospitalised.
Udayakumar and others have been advised by doctors to have mild liquid diet for the next two days.
The state government today also lifted prohibitory orders in the nearby villages, except for the area around the plant where work to commission the first unit is in full swing.
The state government also announced that it would consider other demands of the protesters — withdrawal of hundreds of cases against their group and release of arrested leaders.


Idinthakarai Update from S.P. Udayakumar
April 2, 2012

On March 27, 2012 evening 7:30 PM, we gave up our indefinite hunger strike of 9 days after a credible team of mediators had a round of talks with the Tamil Nadu government officials at Radhapuram near here. They had accepted to release all our comrades from prison and withdraw all the false and serious cases against us.

On March 29, 2012 at 9 AM, a team of Home Ministry officials from New Delhi descended on my family’s home at Nagercoil and inspected our SACCER Trust’s account for 12 hours both at home and again at the Government Guest House in Nagercoil. Our small Trust with hardly any money runs a very small school of 217 children. [It is interesting to note that the central government’s and state government’s teams inspected the Koodankulam nuclear power plant for hardly a few hours, and not 12 hours at a stretch.]

On March 30, 2012, I received a letter from the Passport Officer in Madurai that I have to return my Passport as I have criminal cases against me. [I wonder if all the politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, military leaders and businessmen with criminal record have received such a request and I am approaching the court to verify this.]

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) April 1, 2012
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073

Press Release – Tirvandrum

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) entered into a negotiation with the Tamil Nadu State officials on March 27, 2012 with the assistance of some credible and respectable mediators. As per that mediation, the Tamil Nadu State Government assured to release all the imprisoned people through due process and withdraw all the cases that have been registered against us.

However, the bail process is being delayed by several obstacles such as filing charge sheets in additional cases, demanding double surety, and condition bail of asking people to produce themselves at a distant police station on daily basis.

All the false and serious cases such as ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war on the Indian State’ have not been withdrawn yet. Instead all these cases that randomly include +3,000 people and +2,000 people are used to intimidate the local people. So people here live in fear and are very afraid to venture out of their homes and villages. We hear reports that the Tamil Nadu Government is still trying to arrest all the important leaders and functionaries as soon as possible.

Furthermore, personal vendetta is being taken by the State and Central agencies on some individuals and NGOs. The Home Ministry officials searched the home of S. P. Udayakumar on March 29, 2012 for some 12 hours. And the Madurai Passport Officer has now asked Udayakumar to surrender his passport within 15 days through his letter dated 30/3/2012.

The Tamil Nadu Government has sent the local police officers and constables from Koodankulam and Idinthakarai etc. to their respective villages on official duty to divide the local communities by instigating caste and religious hatred and group clashes. These police men spend all their time talking to their relatives and friends in their villages spreading rumors and causing fear and concerns among the people.

The Tamil Nadu Government is also using the Rs. 500 crore package to woe the corrupt and unscrupulous elements from the local villages, divide the communities and mobilize false support for the Koodankulam nuclear power project.

We would also like to highlight the fact that the KKNPP has been restarted without any kind of consent and cooperation of the local people and it grossly violates Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. The fears and concerns of the people have not been addressed in any meaningful manner by both the Expert Teams nominated by the Central and State Governments. These governments are blatantly violating the rights and entitlements of the local people in an arrogant and authoritarian manner.

The PMANE has concluded its 9-day indefinite hunger strike and has resumed its relay hunger strike on daily basis from March 28, 2012. It is not true that our struggle has been withdrawn just because we have decided to resume fishing, open the local shops and send the Idinthakarai children back to school.

Supreme Court Advocate Shri Prashant Bhushan visited us on March 31, 2012 and the former Chief Minister of Kerala and current opposition leader Shri V.S. Achuthanandan is scheduled to visit on April 12, 2012.

The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned
about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia