A.Muthukrishnan

The southern tip of India where the world’s greatest struggle against nuclear energy is being held in a non-violent way for the past 7 months has turned very bleak . Without a single incident of violence there has been a very peaceful protest which has created harmony among all religious and caste groups around Kudankulam. People from more than 50 villages around the upcoming nuclear plant have been creating history day by day as they spelt out their anger and frustration against the Central Government which has never tried to involve themselves in any dialogue with the protestors.

As the Sankarankovil by-election went off the total police personnel deployed there didn’t return to their bases, and in cost effective exercise have been diverted straight to the Kudankulam region. Since they arrived there numbering more than 6,000, a curfew has been implemented, and life around the plant for the protestors has become dreary and difficult.

An embargo has been unleashed by the state on its own people. The state has blocked water, public transport, electricity and even civil supplies to the protesting villagers, who are only voicing their views in this democracy their right to have a healthy life. In the name of exercising powers to maintain public peace and tranquility the District Collector has deprived the people of this taluk of their right to move freely around the place. As of now, no material evidence or reason has been placed by the authorities which could portray the reason of imposing the “unreasonable embargo”.

More than 20,000 people largely women who were leading the protest against the upcoming nuclear plant are left with no food and water to their families. The same is the fate of the 190 arrested who still have not been given any avenues of legal assistance. Power supplies to both the villages are being terminated and this continued for more than 12 hours. After the intervention of some journalists it was restored yesterday at 8.30pm. There is no reason for this undue blackout.

There are about 1400 children in the age group of 6-11 and another 900 children below 5 years in Idinthakarai and Kuthenkuly. School children were prevented from appearing for the Higher Secondary Board Exams which are being held since the first week of March. In the meantime, a school run by S.P.Udayakumar’s wife Meera has been ransacked by hooligans with the fullest co operation of the state officials and police. Some unidentified goons ransacked the school library, razed down the compound wall, and damaged even the furniture of the KG section and school vans. Despite Meera pleading for protection as she had been receiving hate calls for the past whole week, the district administration turned a deaf ear.

The state policy and the paramilitary forces stationed in large numbers are ready for a brutal attack on the people with sophisticated arms and ammunition. They have been creating a situation of panic with the help of the curfew which is imposed by the district administration. People have been on vigil and they are taking all preventive measures. The protest has not recorded a single incident of violence in the past 7 months, and so there is no reason for the militarisation of this region which now looks like a war zone. The police have been pleading to Udayakumar to surrender, But the protesting people have said that it would be fair only when all the protesting people are arrested en masse.

Apart from this a convoy of more than 15 police vehicles have been encircling Idinthakarai and they have been conducting flag drills every few hours through the day and night. Their forceful presence in this region has turned into a war zone like situation.

Anti-nuke activists have been protesting against this nuclear plant for the past 25 years. But the response from the public was very feeble. Even at times when Praful Bidwai, Achin Vainaik, Surendra Gadekar and many others visited this site and conducted public and hall meetings the public perception was that these people were here against the development of this region. They were of the opinion that the KKNPP would bring in new paradigms in their life. Since March after the melt down in Fukushima the regional and English media have been telecasting many news items with the ill effects of nuclear power and radiation. In the aftermath of the Fukushima melt down nuclear news was also a selling item for more than a month.

When the mock drill was conducted in June 2011, this was the turning point of the struggle. People were now experiencing and seeing with their own eyes what the media had been broadcasting about a nuclear accident. It was at this juncture that they called up Udayakumar from Nagercoil and asked them to lead them and that they were very definite about protesting against this Killer Science and Killer Project which had come to destroy the livelihood of this region. Then it was leaders from across India who lined up here to speak on the ill effects of this nuclear energy and the condition of Indian nuclear plants. Segregation, discrimination, opression and forced displacement have been the norms of all nuclear plants in India.

What is the rationale behind the militarisation of the region? Can any of us with democratic ethos and a sane mind keep quiet at this juncture? The whole of the nuclear establishment which is a public exchequer guzzling establishment does translate into a mere trifle 2% of India’s needed electricity. Our democratic Governments squander public money and to shade their squander’s are painting a patriotic stroke and turning this whole region into the Auschwitz of India.

The stalemate is on. Rumours keep floating in the air, a contingent of police are on the way and people run to the villages entrance and then come back as the police stops themselves at a distant spot and they turn aback.