Thenga Ganeshan of Koodankulam village

Anitha S.

Ref : Ganeshan’s interview in Stolen Democracies: Documentary by Yamini and Suresh ( 09400323871).

Henry David Thoreau said years ago “ Under a government that which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison”

Thenga Ganeshan of Koodankulam village in Thirunelveli district would not have heard of Thoreau. Nor would it bring him peace to be locked up in the Palayamkotta prison for 10 days during the most crucial phase of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy based in Idinthakarai village. Anyone who has gone there would have seen this healthy and stocky young man, who would come running up to you with a smile and a self introductory statement “ Thenga Ganeshan from Koodankulam village”.

Photo: Antony Kebiston : Ganeshan stands next to Mugilan with the mike and S.P.Udayakumar. 11th March 2013 during the siege with boats.

Photo: Antony Kebiston : Ganeshan stands next to Mugilan with the mike and S.P.Udayakumar. 11th March 2013 during the siege with boats.

Meeting him first in Thiruvananthapuram when a team of people came to invite V.S.Achuthanandan to Koodankulam, Ganeshan expressed deep concern about the situation and support needed from Kerala.

Meeting him again in Delhi during the Public Hearing on Nuclear Power Plants in the country last August I was struck by his clarity and dedication to the people whom he represented. Inspiring Melrit and Xavieramma to talk and shout slogans, Ganeshan showed all the makings of a good and selfless organizer.

Ganeshan was the key organizer in and around the villages, speaking with conviction and power about why the Koodankulam Power Plant should not be commissioned. Laughing at the absurdity of the on Commissioning and reminding about the number of times this has been delayed, Ganeshan would describe loudly about the undemocratic nature of the whole process. Though from Koodankulam, he was a consistent figure in the Samara Pandal. Being the son of an agriculturist and being a good farmer might have been why he earned the name.
Asked why he joined the movement, Ganeshan said clearly and simply “ When so many of my people and whole village is against the Nuclear Power plant, what reason do I have to stay away?” Yes, Ganeshan like many others had no reason to stay away. As more and more reasons got unraveled, Ganeshan stead fast commitment grew. He became an indispensable part of the struggle front. Smiling and energetic, alert and patient, listening and contributing, Ganeshan was there always. He was there on March 11th when hundreds of boats blocked the sea near the KKNPP shouting slogans standing in the rocking boat in the sun. He would join the discussions with community leaders inspiring with ideas. He would have exclaimed in anger hear that KKNPP 3 and 4 has been agreed upon by the Government while 1 and 2 are in doldrums.

So it was a shock to hear on 20th March when going there to Idinthakarai that Ganeshan got picked up by Police while visiting his village Koodankulam. Why? “Why not? Asked an indignant Milton – “ to intimidate us further. To show us that there is more to come. That we should not relax. To charge Goondas Act on us so we will slowly withdraw. Like the 3 women- Xavieramma, Selvi and Sundari were detained for months. To stop youngsters from joining and staying in the movement.

The charges against Ganeshan who must have gone to see his parents would also be Sedition, Plotting against the Nation, Unlawful assemblage and so on.

How long and how far can this go on?

Ganeshan would not have heard of Thoreau. But he certainly is a true disciple and follower of Gandhiji . He would be proud to be in jail during these times when talking about reinstating democracy, demanding the participation of people in decision making, raising crucial questions about development projects is equivalent to Sedition. Then Ganeshan would much rather be in prison. But those of us who knew his role in the village and the true leaders of the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy miss the strong and positive presence of this man …

Join discussion: leave a comment