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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kudankulam protest turns violent - need for permanent solution

From idyllic settings to boiling cauldron – the news of Kudankulam protests turn violent does not augur well for the Nation.

A few months ago, there were reports of some sinister designs keeping the agitations alive….. and there were Qs as to why  the Govt.  was not taking any stringent action in putting down such protest when the Prime Minister himself recorded that protests against the Nuclear plant are funded from out of the country !  - it was unbecoming that the protesters were operating from Church premises at Idinthakarai, held their sway and challenged and stopped  even Scientists from entering the Plant.  Kudankulam  has been on a queer pitch !  - reading the various news items related to the stir in fact shakes you on what is happening and why there is inaction in not having it commissioned.

        Earlier there were reports of protestors led by PMANE convener S P Udayakumar usurping  the power to stop the workers and officials from entering the plant; they asking for detailed plan lay out and their rejecting the contentions of the experts in the field and ridicule the version of the Ex President, who himself is a noted scientist ! – Questions and more questions – with no answers..

Now the agitations have turned violent.  As First Post has written beautifully, it betrays the inherent contradictions of a “peaceful” “Gandhian” movement that the anti-Kudankulam agitation claims itself to be; second, it also signals the end stage of a protracted game that will culminate in KKNPP (Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant) connecting to the grid and the agitation turning into a chronic headache for the authorities and a magnet for itinerant activists.  The most significant of the two is the sudden change in the complexion of the agitation by PMANE (People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy), the struggle committee and the villagers. So far, they appeared to be tolerant, despite their hardline Gandhian approach; but on Monday, reports and images from the field show that they did resort to non-peaceful methods.

A 4000-strong group of people moving towards a huge commission-ready nuclear power plant, however peaceful, is a certain law-and-order situation for the police and other security forces. There is nothing peaceful about a very large group of people marching towards such a sensitive facility. One erring on the right side of caution cannot dismiss police claims that the protestors were planning to attack the KKNPP whether it is true or not. They had to be stopped and when they were stopped, there was mayhem.  Added to this, were the amphibian techniques that the protestors planned and executed. Reportedly they opened fronts both on land and at sea creating considerable confusion and operational difficulty for the police. That the plant could be accessed from the sea could certainly add to the concerns of the security forces. Monday’s protest also had the hallmarks of the radicalism that many of the people’s movements in India show, such as giving no space for negotiations; fielding women, children and the old at the frontline, and resorting to homegrown techniques of stalemating the authorities and security forces that could lead to police excesses.  In trying to stop the Kudankulam Power project desperately, PMANE appears to have gone scatter-brained.

It cannot be taken lightly that the ideologically revolting is “Koodankulam children” are writing to Obama’s daughters asking for their intervention.  In US everyone sees Red and cries of Imperialism – in what way and why ask  American president’s daughters to save ?  - why surrender to external forces and what is the propriety of such moves !!

There are not much options -  Cripped with power-shortage, the state needs electricty to stay alive; in fact much more than what Kudankulam can provide. The CM has urged people not to fall for the false campaign of the protestors and listed the steps she took to ensure the safety of the plant. She also pointed to the fact that it was the Madras High Court that has given the go ahead for the fuel loading at the plant. The government action can be justified as its responsibility to uphold the Court order.

All along they talked of obeying Court orders but the agitators with some sinister design are trying to stall the project.  Now they do not seem to think of legal option but try Obama’s hand !! – the protest turned violent leaving little scope for any other action by Police than preventing their attempt to siege the atomic power plant.  The over 2,000 protesters reportedly  fought pitched battles throwing stones, logs and sand on the baton-wielding policemen who chased them with many of them even rushing towards the sea.  What will the Police do when agitators defy prohibitory orders and stay put at the seashore, about 500 metres away from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.  There were also reports that local Panchayat office and the Village Administrative Officer’s office were set on fire  and how can they continue to call the agitation peaceful still !   Newspaper reports mention of the drama unfolding at the seashore after District Collector R Selvaraj accompanied by top police officials made yet another attempt to coax the protesters, including women, to leave the place.  Police said soon some protesters targeted them throwing stones and attacking with logs, causing minor injuries to four police personnel, including South Zone IGP Rajesh Doss, prompting them to make charge and fire teargas.

Condemning the police action, PMANE Convenor SP Udayakumar charged the state government with exposing its “fascist” face and vowed to continue the protest- and he still calls it Gandhian ways ! with the religious support that he has mustered.  Now an  uneasy calm prevails in Kudankulam and Idinthakarai and the protesters are fully responsible for the situation that they are in now amidst reports of clarion call made by priests in a few churches in the coastal villages of the district on Saturday morning appealing to the devotees to join the ‘satyagraha’ on Sunday.

Things cannot continue like this for long and the Nation wants a correct solution – for all its citizens – permanent peace is what is required

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Sept. 2012.

1 comment:

  1. As a frenchman, I never heard of Kudankulam before reading this post. I just searched Wikipedia (the French one) for Kudankulam. To my surprise, I was updated as follows:
    "On Sept. 10 2012, the anti-riot police broke up a demonstration of approx. 4000 (a majority of women and children) who had been camping for several months on a square approx. 1 km from Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Some demonstrators escaped by sea the charge of hundreds of policemen, using fishermen boats."
    France (65 million inhabitants) has 58 NPPs, and the protesters are a minority. Closing up the oldest one is presently discussed ans propsed by the Govt.