In an age where the State defines its role as ‘emancipating’ and ‘empowering’, the plight of several oppressed individuals, some of whom have even succumbed to injuries obtained in the course of their struggle, remind us of the increasing exercise of authority and power by the State with an effort to contain the rising trend of ‘hitting the street’ or ‘raising a question’ over the efficient functioning of public institutions by concerned civil society members and groups.
Through a series of articles to be published over a period of time, NEWZFIRST will highlight the plight of many such activists and rights’ campaigners by speaking to the ones closest to them.
Starting from the most recent death of an anti-nuke activist who succumbed to health issues which only exacerbated during the period she spent in jail after she was arrested on charges of ‘waging war against the state’ and ‘sedition’, we go on to explore the stories of many others who experienced a similar – if not such dreadful – fate.
Story of J Roslin
As the anti-nuke struggle at Koodankulam enters the 500th day, we revisit the heart-wrenching tale of J Roslin, a 63-year old woman and mother of three, who died on 21 December at Idinthikarai, the nucleus of anti-nuke struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).
J Roslin was among the 7 women who were randomly picked up from Idinthakarai beach during the police crackdown on anti-nuke activists, who were protesting the coming up of KNPP, on 10 September 2012.
She was put in Trichy women’s prison along with three other women – Xavier Ammal, Sundari and Selvi.
She was charged under sections 147 – Rioting, 145 – continuing in unlawful assembly, 163 r/w 144, 222, 252, 255, 294(b), 207 and 427 r/w 149 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), in the case for which she was arrested (Crl OP 15389/2012, Crime No. 349/2012, Offence date: 10.9.2012).
At the time of arrest, she complained about her ailing health. She said that she was extremely unwell and had been suffering with frequent bouts of vomiting, and needed urgent medical attention and diagnosis. These facts were also registered in the records, prior to her detention in Trichy prison.
However, she was not given adequate treatment in the prison and her requests for medical attention went unheeded.
“The very first day after she was arrested, she was vomiting and could not eat. During her stay in the prison, doctors visited her and prescribed some medicines, but her health continued to worsen”, Pushparayan Victoria, leader of Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), told Newzfirst.
“She was given I.V fluids once after which she felt little better. She complained to the Magistrate, who released her on conditional bail after 50 days”, Pushparayan added.
After she was granted bail in the case for which she was arrested, the police filed two more cases and prolonged her stay in prison.
She was charged under sections 121 (Waging war against the State), 124A (Sedition) and 142 (Unlawful assembly) of IPC in two different cases (Crl OP 15368, Crime No. 70/2012, Offence date: 16.2.2012 and Crl OP 15385, Crime No. 300/2012, Offence date: 11.6.2012).
“The police had kept several blank spaces in the list of accused for different cases, so her name was added there”, Pushparayan said.
She was finally released from prison on 30 October 2012, on the condition that she should sign her presence at a police station in Madurai.
As her condition worsened, it became impossible for her to visit the police station, and she was hospitalized in the Madurai General hospital. The doctors said that she had a serious illness. After staying there for about 10 days, she was moved to Idinthakarai where she died during the early hours of Friday, 21 December.
“She was a woman in her 60’s and was fighting for her livelihood; fighting for her children. She had no grudge against the nation. She was accused and arrested on false grounds. She was ill and could not even speak properly. She only came to the protest site to sit and watch. It is very unfortunate that the government is acting in such a ruthless way”, Pushparayan said in a tone of disappointment.
The protesters experienced police crackdown twice this year – once on 19 March and again on 10 September. Although there has been no crackdown since then, the villagers of Idinthikarai and Koodankulam have experienced restrictions in terms of mobility – both in and out of the area.
The police also detained several activists and foreign nationals in the last 2 months for trying to visit the protest site.
“The anti-nuclear struggle has been completely peaceful. There has been complete failure on behalf of the administration and judiciary. Here the people are trying to secure their livelihood and land, whereas the government is bent on helping the MNCs who are coming from other countries”, said Pushparayan.
Roslin, a victim of neglect and vengeance of the State, reminds us that having an opinion contrary to that held by the Govt., is a crime warranting imprisonment under harsh sections of IPC.
- Roselyn: Idinthakarai activist, anti nuke protester – a victim of Neglect #RIP (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India-*Do We Exist? -Fifth Letter From The Women Of Idinthakarai #Koodankulam #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- The Koodankulam Struggle: Why We Fight #nuclear (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India #Koodankulam Letter to Heads of States/Governments (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Demand Release of PMANE Women activists from Trichy Jail #mustshare (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India #Nuclear – The ‘Koodankulam Conflict’ Map #mustread (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #Koodankulam -Thousands of protestors detained while laying siege to TN assembly (kractivist.wordpress.com)