Why Not Bury Us Alive?: People Ask in Koodankulam

The village of Koottapulli expressed their protest by burying themselves alive near the graveyard in the sand.

Anitha S.

On the 6th day of this new and most painful phase of the struggle of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the fear stricken women and children under the quiet leadership of many decided to purify and cleanse the century year old Lourde Mother Church in Idinthakarai. Dressed in their best and in total prayer, the people walked the village asking pardon for sins and crimes they had not committed. They walked up to the sea and carried water in pots decked with neem leaves to clean the Church interior which was the stage for one of the most shocking scenes that they had witnessed. Just the day before, Sahayam had told us-

“Like they abused our will and bodies with lathis and tear gases, they threw the precious and beautiful idol of Mary on the ground and beheaded her. We want to bring back the tranquility of the Church where we sat reading from the Bible. In which Court will they be absolved?”

In the most solemn of ceremonies the purification was conducted. The women cried their hearts out and the process of healing of many of their wounds and fears commenced.

Later that day, Naam Tamilar Kachi Leader Seeman visited the Pandal and expressed solidarity and grief about the happenings. He also visited the family of the deceased Sahayam and consoled the grief stricken family.

The village of Koottapulli expressed their protest by burying themselves alive near the graveyard in the sand. Chellamma amidst the incessant flow of tears and sobs lamented:

“ Bury us alive here. This is a sacred land. This sand and seashore is sacred. Did the Government and the leaders give it to us? It is ours and we belong here. We will not leave”

The news that four adolescents missing from the village were finally located in far away Palayamkottai Juvenile Home brought a bit of relief to the people. But the thought of the young boys far away from home, being treated like criminals shocked many. The 14 charges against them including waging war against the State seemed like a script in an absurd drama.

“ Have you not seen and talked to our children? Do they talk or look like criminals? Do the bats made of coconut fronds or Poovarasu branches look like a weapon? Do the cricket balls they throw resemble the grenades and bombs they hurled at us in the name of maintaining law and order?” asked Ponnasakkiammal holding her twin boys.

The maimed nose bridge of the little boy and the dark face of the young one lying with high fever and shock ( was he the one we had with friends as they waited for their father and friends to come ashore with fish?) were characters in a cruel play in which they had no role in the real sense.

“ Would they be beaten up? How will Xavieramma feel about her mother who goes fish vending? How will Sundari sleep thinking about her 2 young ones at home alone ? Selvi? Will they allow us to see them- can we go to Trichy? When will they be let out? Or are they also charged with the most intense of crimes? asked Mary and Melrit.

The questions go on and on. The walls and doors, all entrances and exits of the world from which answers should emerge remains tightly shut. The phones in the chambers from where pay rolls are issued to provide answers keep ringing day in and day out. Who will answer? Which tide will wash away this fear and insecurity? Which team, which NIMHANS can bring back the smiles and clear beautiful eyes of the people now clouded and dark?

From a solemn Idinthakarai after conversing with Amritraj Stephen, Elango and Milton. From a soul communication with Melrit, Sundari, Mary and Ponnasakkiammal and Udayakumar ( PMANE Press Release , 12 Sept, 2012)

Anitha.S and Santhi.S ( 13th – 15th September, 2012)


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