Gandhi’s Smile in Koodankulam


I am Vignesh. I live in the coastal village of Idintakarai, now on the map of anti-nuclear movements in the world. I am 13 years old.Since September 10th when we all peacefully assembled on our beach to demand closure of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, we the children of this region have not been attending school.Nor have we slept in our own homes.You may wonder why.Because we are afraid that what we saw and experienced on that day will be repeated. We have got no assurance that we will be safe and our just demands will be heard and considered. So we dare not go back to the Tsunami colony which is most vulnerable to police invasion.

Today is a happy day for me. This is because 4 of my brothers who were take away by police have come back. Kishan ,Rajkumar, Muthukumaresan and Karunasagar have returned home.It makes me angry and sad that they were beaten up, made to walk bare-foot in the hot tar road, and verbal abuses showered on them. Inspite of the fact that they kept quiet, the police tried to provoke them. I would like to go and see them.But my mother is scared that if we go to the next village we will be harassed. They have been charged with many crimes which are so absurd and stupid. The greatest crime is that they joined the protest and questioned the KKNPP.

I have had such varied experiences since being part of the struggle. I have seen so many people, heard so many speeches, travelled and spoken to the media. Last month, I travelled all the way to Chennai on a high adventure trip with much secrecy. We did not get a chance to see the people we were meant to meet.But the group addressed the Press and we presented our case. I was able to explain why we are part of the struggle.

It hurts me that leaders like Narayanaswamy and A.P.J.Abdul Kalam think of us as poor illiterate people.I would like to shout out to them that we are not. We all go to school. Our parents know to read and write.We read the newspaper daily and listen to the news. How can we be termed illiterate?

My brother says that if we decide we can harm all the people who come to suppress us.We have all the sharp tools and strong oars with us that can kill and maim humans.But for over an year we have been hearing about peace and ahimsa. I love the word Ahimsa. It carries all the meaning of love and care, share and concern for a fellow human being and all of life. When I think of that word, I see the smiling picture of Gandhiji with a small child that I have seen in a newspaper. It is so easy to be violent and abusive. On September 10th , when the Police chased us on the beach with lathis and tear gas , some of us threw our precious footwear at them. Some threw the beach sand just to ward them away. Not one person took even a stick or picked up a stone. That day I understood the true meaning of Ahimsa. I really felt like a child gently learning to walk watched by a loving parent.I felt the hands of restraint of our dear leaders leading us to the safe haven of peace and love, however pained and injured we were.

I see Ahimsa in the words of my dear friend Shyamili who keeps worrying about how radiation will affect the fishes which when we export will reach other regions and harm them. I see it in the trembling voice of my mother as she wonders how it will make the wombs of women graveyards. I know the meaning of the word as Chellamma laments about her brother Sahayam who died on September 13th. I hear it in the voice of Udayakumar Anna as he told us to be peaceful on the moving night of September 11th when he was taken away from the eyes of the world. I am proud to have learnt all this through this movement against one of the most violent of human discoveries.

I know that friends and supporters all over the country are coming together peacefully in support of us. We know that there are many children who have assembled, rallied and pledged so that India will ban all nuclear power plants.

I feel Gandhiji’s smiling at us on this day-October 2nd 2012.
Let us hope that smile will bring more peace, tolerance and the will to take just decisions in our country.

Vignesh in conversation with Anitha.S (

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