We, the under-signed, are distraught at the strong-arm tactics used by Puthupattinam Police Inspector Mr. Sivakumar to silence Dr. V. Pugazhenthi, who has used his training as a medical doctor and experience as a researcher into the medical effects of radiation to treat and educate people from the villages surrounding the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant. On 1 December, 2011, Dr. Pugazhenthi was summoned to the Puthupattinam police station on the pretext of an enquiry into a complaint filed by the Panchayat president alleging that Dr. Pugazhenthi threatened to murder him if he failed to join the agitation against nuclear energy. The fact that this is a lie is clearly established by the material evidence produced by the complainant — namely, an anonymous letter allegedly written at Dr. Pugazhenthi’s behest, threatening sms messages from unknown numbers, calls made but from unknown numbers allegedly by Dr. Pugazhenthi to complainant’s phone threatening to kill him etc. Indeed, this was no enquiry. At no point in time did the Inspector ask for any clarification from the complainant about the numbers from which the calls and SMSes were received. Neither did he care to verify whether the calls or SMSes could even have originated from Dr. Pugazhenthi. In other words, the Inspector seemed to have made up his mind about Dr. Pugazhenthi’s culpability even prior to conducting the enquiry.

At the end of the enquiry, Inspector Sivakumar threatened to use the National Security Act against Dr. Pugazhenthi and asked him if he knew what an “encounter” was. For Mr. Sivakumar to have suggested the use of the National Security Act against Dr. Pugazhenthi, and worse to allude to an “encounter” is a gross abuse of power and tantamount to the crime of criminal intimidation.

Dr. Pugazhenthi is a gold medallist from the Madurai Medical College, who chose to work among the poor and needy. Since 1989, he has run a barefoot clinic providing inexpensive service to thousands of patients from the villages in the vicinity of the Kalpakkam reactor. As a medical doctor with ethics and a conscience, the doctor not just treats his patients but also educates them on the causes of their ailments. Owing to his integrity and knowledge about issues relating to radiation, Dr. Pugazhenthi has been nominated as an advisor to a local citizens’ organisation against radiation hazards. On 12 December, this organisation is set to organise a day-long fast to highlight the safety lapses at the Kalpakkam plant.

Even as a debate rages on about the pros and cons of nuclear power, centred around the pitched battles by farmers and fisherfolk in Koodankulam,  Jaitapur and Gorakhpur, a silent tragedy is unfolding in our midst around the currently operating nuclear power plants in our country.

Inspector Sivakumar is merely a cog in the wheel. The Department of Atomic Energy, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and the nuclear lobby’s handiwork in this instance of intimidation is evident. Having failed in
their attempt to use science to convince people about the safety and justification of using nuclear power, the nuclear lobby wants to silence all voices that offer a differing view on the matter of nuclear energy.

We strongly condemn the actions of the nuclear lobby. We are writing to the District Collector, Kanchipuram District, and the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu seeking immediate action against the errant official, Inspector Sivakumar. We also request the State Government to ensure that an atmosphere conducive for an informed debate on the pros and cons of nuclear energy be created as this would be the best course of action for democracy and a sustainable future.

Sincerely,
1. Nityanand Jayaraman, Vettiver Kootamaippu, Chennai
c/o H16/9 Seevakan Street, Kalakshetra Colony, Chennai 600 090
2. Madhumita Dutta, Researcher, Activist, Chennai
3. Praful Bidwai, Columnist, New Delhi
4. M.G. Devasahayam (Retd) I.A.S. Managing Trustee, SUSTAIN, Chennai
5. VT Padmanabhan, Researcher on Radiation and Health, Kannur
6. Sukla Sen, EKTA, Mumbai
7. Karen Coelho, Faculty, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai
8. M. Vijayabaskar, Faculty, Madras Institute of Development Studies,
Chennai
9. Dharmesh Shah, Vettiver Kootamaippu, Chennai
10. Shweta Narayan, Vettiver Kootamaippu, Chennai
11. K. Saravanan, Vettiver Kootamaippu, Chennai
12. E.A.S. Sarma, (Retd) I.A.S. Vishakapatnam
13. Naveen Vasudevan, Concerned Citizen, Chennai
14. G. Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai
15. Anil Tharayath Varghese, Programme for Social Action, New Delhi
16. M.J. Vijayan, Delhi Forum, New Delhi
17. Lakshmi Premkumar, Delhi Forum, New Delhi
18. Johnson PJ, Dynamic Action, Kerala
19. Philip George, Partners in Justice Concerns (PJC-India), Bangalore
20. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Khaneej & Adhikar, Jharkhand
21. Punit Minz, Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee, Jharkhand
22. Ashok Choudhary, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers,
India
23. Shaktiman Ghosh, National Hawkers’ Federation, India
24. Bhupinder S Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi
25. Rajendra Ravi, Institute for Democracy and Sustainability, New Delhi
26. Sunita Rani, National Alliance of Domestic Workers, India
27. George PT, Intercultural Resources, Delhi
28. Prem Piram & Arun Mohan, Media Collective, New Delhi
29. Ashok Sharma, Update Collective, Delhi
30. Benny Kuruvila, Focus on Global South, India
31. Janaki Srinivasan, Department of Political Science, Panjab University,
Chandigarh
32. Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, New Delhi
33. Matanhy Saldanha, National Fishworkers Forum, Goa, India
34. T. Peter, Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, Kerala
35. Pradip Chatterjee, DISHA, West Bengal
36. Debasis Shyamal, Dakshin Banga Matsya Jeebi Forum, West Bengal
37. Mohan Rao, National Handloom Weavers’ Federation, Andhra Pradesh
38. Joe Athialy, Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi
39. Sandeep Pandey, Asha Parivaar-NAPM, Lucknow
40. Prafulla Samatara, Lok Sakti Abhiyan-NAPM, Orissa
41. Gabriele Doetrich, NAPM Tamilnadu, Madurai
42. Anand Mazgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti – NAPM Gujarat
43. Ramakrishan Raju and Sarasvathy Javula, NAPM, Andhra Pradesh
44. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, New Delhi
45. Anuradha Talwar, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samiti, Kolkata
46. George, IGR
47. Adminarl (Retd) L. Ramdas
48. Lalita Ramdas