The Pandal at Idinthakarai was packed with women, children and men. There was an unfamiliar silence even at 4pm but an eagerness that burst out as subdued claps when the group arrived. Though the world has been blanketing all that happened on Sept 9th, 10th and thereafter as “Police Atrocities” , the real details, textures and sub-texts of this draconian state of affairs got revealed in the following hours. The PMANE ( People’e Movement Against Nuclear Energy) had done very systematic arrangements for individual testimonies under various categories.

1.Recounting the Stories of 10th and 11th September .2012:

This is an ongoing continuous process in which the women, children and men would narrate voluntarily about the events of the day , individually and collectively. The details would differ from the cleverness of the decision to walk along the beach to the experience of sleeping out in the open. It would be about how the police provoked and prodded the silent assembly of people. Many said “ Pictures do not lie. See how we were pushed into the sea and then made to run into the village”

2.Testimonies of those injured :

Of this the most painful one was that of 82 year old Jnanaprakasham who was hit behind the head and has stitches. Unable to hear and see well, he asked “ What wrong did we do?”

The pain in the face of the sturdy man whose jaw flesh and bones were cut through and now stitched up and bandaged. Many had to reach the hospital alone as those accompanying them were picked up on the way.
The low voice of 6 year old Robin whose nose was burned by the tear gas shell as he ran for shelter from the smoke and commotion. When one of the persons in the Fact Finding Team said he had nothing to ask the small boy, Robin came forward boldly to explain.

The tall and string man who showed his shoulder injured requested that they be spared such events that make a man cry over and over thinking of the unfairness of the situation.

3.Testimonies of parents whose children are missing :

The mother who waited patiently to enquire about her 16 year old son who was picked up.She looked tired and anxious with the burden of unshed tears. Is he in Palayam kottai? Would the charges against him be ever removed?.

4.Testimonies of arrests:

The wife of the man who had gone home to eat his breakfast the day after the carnage holding the dreaded brown envelope with government seal with a statement in a language alien to most of us. What does Sec 144 or 148 mean to a person who went hungry to his home for a fulfilling meal with his wife and children? Her eyes glistened with tears and hope as she left holding on to her 2 young boys. Would we picked up too?

The husband of Sundari, the soul of the strugglewho quietly appeared and told how he is managing the 2 children with the help of his sister. The most touching part was when he concluded by saying that “ Of course when one involves in such a Porattam ( Struggle) one should be prepared for such consequences”. I remembered how on 6th Sept morning Sundari quietly explained how supportive her rough and tough husband has been all through the days she came in late or stayed away.

5.Testimonies of property damaged:

The Tsunami Rehabilitation Colony was the one badly affected were many houses had their windows broken, TV and furniture ransacked and so on. The pain of losing their small riches made painstakingly cannot ever be evaluated, but has to be assessed too.

The traumatic memory of the child who was frantically searching for his mother on the cycle which was snatched away and broken by the police. The tiny shop of Tamizharasu in the Tsunami Colony( from where she would get us biscuits and chips) which was ransacked and broken for no reason at all.

6. The Desecration of the Church

The Lourde Matha Church in the village which has given shelter and witnessed so many meetings and gatherings was urinated up on and the Statue of the Mother beheaded. This defies all the sins in the living memory of the community. This along with the Purification ceremony will remain one of the darkest chapters in the minds of the people.

Leelus said with tears in her blood-shot eyes “ Like the Earth, our Mother here has a Truth and Strength that will overcome all tests”.

7.Verbal abuse by Police on a young handicapped lady:

The blue uniform and the man’s face can never be forgotten said the polio- stricken woman smiling, crying and talking after many days that evening. The man held her hand and demanded she leave her small child and be with him. The tears and shock would move anyone to blind anger and action. “ If we decide, we can locate that man and tear him to pieces. But we think of the path of peace we have taken as our aim is to be near justice and truth” said a young man as he watched her terror- stricken face.

8.The sight of the rice that was thrown off the burning stove by the police, sand put in and some urinated upon. This was the day after the whole group including children had not even had one square meal.

9.The fear in the face of Arumachelvi as she gazed at her cherubic 3 year old Velankanni and Aiswarya and said ‘ I thought I had lost them when I ran my feet pricked by thorns and sinking in the sand, It was after many hours that I found them”.

The whirling sounds of the huge table fans nor the generator that started with a roar as electric supply kept going last night on the Samara Pandal could not hide the sighs and sorrow of the huge crowd trying to find a space in the limited area available. How long can we continue like this is the most relevant and unfaced question that the people ask the world now? Which force on Earth can revoke the decision to stop the functioning of the ill-fated Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant? We are liable to be part of the process that will help reach the most simplest of answers. Because very soon this could be our question too.

( Anitha.S after being a mute witness to the testimonies of people at Idinthakarai on Sept 19th and 20th ,2012)