If you want to know how angry TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is against the people who dared to voice a view contrary to the nuclear establishment’s, read the press release attached. Just between September and December 2011, at a time when the villagers thought Jayalalithaa was supporting their non-violent struggle, she seems to have instructed the police to file cases against the demonstrators. 109 FIRs have been filed against 55,795 people and an undisclosed number of “others.” At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, include Section 121 (Waging War against the Government of India) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The Koodankulam police station has the dubious distinction, perhaps, of being the station where the largest number of “sedition” and “waging war” cases have been filed in the shortest time in the history of colonial and independent India. The Tamil Nadu’s chief minister’s actions in suppressing dissenting voices in Koodankulam make Mamata Banerjee’s harsh and anti-democratic jailing of professors recently seem like the tantrum of a petulant feudal lord.
A fact-finding team headed by senior journalist Sam Rajappa confirmed that the Government had indeed restricted movement of essential goods and people in the days following the Chief Minister’s March 19th declaration announcing her support to the nuclear plant. The report, which was released at a press conference in Chennai, noted that the spirit of opposition to the nuclear power plant was very high, and warned that arresting the leaders could lead to a serious law and order problem in the region.
The report, which was based on a two-day visit to Idinthakarai on March 30 and 31, Nagercoil and other villages in Radhapuram taluk, observes that the Police had filed “false cases under every conceivable section in law.” Just between 10.9.2011 and 23.12.2011, the Police had filed 107 FIRs against 55795 people and “others”. Of this, 6800 people have been charged with “sedition” and/or “waging war against the State,” perhaps the largest ever number in British or independent India for one police station. The report’s authors said the recent FIR alleging “attempt to murder” by S.P. Udayakumar, V. Pushparayan and other leaders was fabricated and designed to malign the peaceful movement and its leaders.
“This is a parody of law. The frequency and manner in which the Police has filed cases against peaceful protestors clearly exposes that the police’s intent never was to uphold the rule of law, but to crush any dissenting voices,” said Mr. Rajappa. “The Tamil Nadu CM belongs right up there with Mamata Banerjee for her vengeful use of the Indian Penal Code to suppress any contrary voices,” he said.
Rubbishing claims about mischievous outside instigators and innocent villagers, the report’s authors found that the protest was “a genuine people’s movement.” “Throughout our two-day visit, we could not find any trace of the agitation being instigated by Mr.Udayakumar or any other leader. It is a genuine people’s movement,” the team said. The report also documents a contribution of Rs. 1,25,000 by “a group of fishermen from Chinna Muttom in Kanyakumar district to express solidarity with the Koodankulam agitators. . .and to keep the agitation going.”
Loyola College lecturer Dr. Gladston Xavier, who was also part of the fact finding team, said “The Government should learn from incidents like the Arab Spring that the more the suppression of free speech, the greater the strength and explosive force with which it will eventually emerge.”
The report’s authors appealed to the State Government to revoke the cases filed against protestors, and engage in a genuine and democratic dialogue with them on the substantive issues concerning nuclear safety.
Besides Mr. Rajappa and Dr. Gladston, the fact finding team consisted of Mr. Mahadevan and Mr. Rajan of PUCL-Kanyakumari District and Adv. Porkodi who practises in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
For more information, contact:
Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle
Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401