Koodankulam: the inconsolable grief of Pushparayan

Anitha S. | Countercurrents

As the crow flies, Tuticorin is just 100 kms away from the coastal village of Idinthakarai in Thirunelveli district. But on the night of 12th December and the days following, it seemed like the distance was insurmountable. Pushparayan Victoria, like any son of an 85 year old ailing father wished to be near him as he breathed his last. Unable to cover the 100 kms, he wished to be there for the last rites. But very soon, Pushparayan and his family and friends realized that the Tamil Nadu Government had efficiently put up enough hurdles and barricades to make it impossible for the son to see his father for the last time.

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In a country where convicts in jail are allowed to attend the funeral rites of close relatives, the experience of Pushparayan Victoria cannot be forgotten or forgiven. As his father, Mahiban Victoria breathed his last, he must have thought of his bold son whom he had not seen for over 2 years. The life of Pushparayan Victoria and his closest colleagues at the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy as they cross more than 850 days of peaceful struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant has been one of innumerable trails and tribulations. With unimaginably unjust number of cases and charges against them including anti-national terrorist activities, the life of the simple fishing community at Idinthakarai has been one of intimidation and false accusations. How can one forget the 6 months that Sundari, Xavierammal and Selvi spent in Trichy jail and their conditional bail with daily signing at Madurai that forced them to stay away from home? How can the days that Thenga Ganeshan languished in jail be forgiven just because he went to the village to see his father? How can the months that Mugilan lost be compensated just because he questioned the fallacy of Nuclear Power Plants in our country? How can one ignore the anxiety of Udayakumar unable to be with his family especially to care for his aged parents?

The attempt of the state machinery to convert Idinthakarai village into an open jail reaches the height of criminal oppression with 200 striking Police force deployed at the funeral of Pushparayan’s father. The Police had videographed the entire funeral and intimidated and frightened the public. Pushparayan was unable to reach there fearing arrest and further trouble. His friends videographed the funeral rites and Pushparayan watched his loving father for the last time in his room at Idinthakarai Church bunglow through eyes clouded with tears and mind throbbing with memories.

In May 2013, the Supreme Court while giving the big blow to the people by permitting the functioning of KKNPP gave a small pat on the shoulder by stating that all charges against the people and leaders involved in the PMANE be withdrawn. The incident of Dec 12th proves that the Tamil Nadu State does not heed the verdict of Supreme Court. Conjuring new and more false claims to prove that all is well with the yellow domes of the KKNPP, the State is shocked by the steadfastness and dedication of the people that defies all threats and abuses. But this is no compensation for the moments that a son lost with his father. The distance that Pushparayan could not travel on 12th night will be the longest for all peace loving citizens. The inconsolable grief of Pushparayan and his family along with friends all over the world who dream of a nuclear- free world will be a dark page in the history of India’s democracy.

Anitha.S after seeing Amrithraj Stephen’s Facebook post and communicating with Pushparayan Victoria.

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