Immediate Release- Idinthakarai women win Chingari Award for Non-violent struggle

Press Release

Chingari Award to the women of Idinthakarai – epicenter of the non violent struggle against the powerful nuclear lobby

Chief Guest Dr. Vandana Shiva lauds the role of women in fighting corporate crime

Bhopal, December 1st 2012: The ‘Chingari Award for Women against Corporate Crime’ was handed over to two women, Rani Dasan and Thenmozhi Manickam, representing the thousands of brave women activists who have rallied against the powerful nuclear establishment in a continuing struggle for justice against great odds. Eminent environmental activist, Dr.Vandana Shiva, the Chief Guest at the function, said, “The Kudankulam struggle has emerged not merely as the most defining challenge to nuclear power in the country today but is also one of the strongest demonstrations of non-violent people’s power. The role of the women in the struggle has been critical in ensuring that the energy of the fight remains undiminished. They are truly the ‘chingaris’ of the struggle and it is an honour to be able to present the award to them.”

Referring to the contribution of the women in the fight, the citation of the award read,” The simple women of Idinthakarai, Kuthenkuzhi, Kootapully, Koodankulam, Vairavikinaru and numerous other

coastal villages in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Thootukudi districts embody the spirit of democracy, courage and resistance. Their antagonists are no ordinary entities. Ranged against the beedi-rollers, agriculturists and fisherwomen of South Tamil Nadu is a formidable array of opponents – the Governments of Tamil Nadu, India and Russia; a nuclear supplier lobby comprising multinational companies who see the entire Indian market shutting its doors to them if the Koodankulam struggle were to succeed; a media that has for most part been hostile; a disinterested and cynical public, and national political parties that have either remained curiously silent or come out vocally in support of nuclear energy. In celebration of the power of non-violence over violence, of truth over falsehood and of people’s resolve over the might of a corporate police state, the 2012 Chingari Award is given to the brave women of Idinthakarai, Koodankulam, Kuthenkuzhy, Kootapully and Vairavikinaru.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, Managing Trustees of Chingari and women who’ve lead from the front in the fight for corporate accountability against multinational Dow-Carbide, said:

We feel honored to be able to stand in solidarity with the women of Idinthakarai. The Chingari Trust is for the 6th year running been able to shine the spotlight on brave women activists across the country fighting powerful vested interests at great risk to their lives. We also remember today the feisty Dayamani Barla a journalist and tribal activist, who was a recipient of this award in 2008 who is now imprisoned by the Madhya Pradesh government, in a blatant attempt to intimidate and repress a fight against land acquisition. We condemn this action of the state and call for her immediate release.”

The Chingari Trust was started by two women survivors of the Bhopal disaster who were awarded the Goldman Environmental prize in 2004. The women – Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla used the prize money of 125 thousand USD to set up Chingari Trust. More than 150 children affected by the toxic legacy of the Dow – Carbide plant, are provided medical and social support at the Chingari rehabilitation center on Berasia road.
Rashida Bee Champa Devi Shukla

Managing Trustee Managing Trustee


#Australia Award-winning Filmmaker #David Bradbury detained on way to Koodankulam -plant

Oct 26, Deccan chronicle

Australian documentary fi­lmmaker, David Bradbury, known for his crusade ag­ainst nuclear energy, and his wife, Linda Treena Rose, were detained by the Kudankulam police on the­ir way to Idinthakarai, the hub of the struggle against the Kudankulam Nuclear Po­wer Plant (KKNPP) on Thursday morning.

Although taken to the Va­l­l­iyoor DSP’s office for que­s­tioning, the couple was re­l­­eased when the police lear­nt of Bradbury’s credenti­a­ls as a filmmaker nominated twice for the Oscar.

The Australian filmmaker has come to Tamil Nadu to make a documentary on the anti-KKNPP moveme­nt, according to filmmaker, Sreemith of Calicut, who made the Get up, Stand up documentary on the agitat­i­on and has helped coordin­a­te his trip. He revealed that Bradbury contacted him as soon as he was det­a­i­ned by the police.

The local police, who first informed the media about the detention of the couple, later denied it.


#India-*Do We Exist? -Fifth Letter From The Women Of Idinthakarai #Koodankulam #Vaw

    23 October, 2012
    The Women of Idinthakarai
    People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy
    Thirunelveli district

    Dear Sister

    We hope you are all fine. This is the fifth letter from us to all of you.
    So much has happened since we last wrote to you. As we look at the yellow
    domes of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant so close to our homes, we
    wonder what is happening there. We have one question to you all: Do you
    know exactly what is happening there?

    We have heard that fuel loading with 163 enriched uranium rods that started on Sept 16th got over by Oct 2nd. What an auspiscious day to complete the initiation of one of the most violent of processes human kind has discovered!
    The Nuclear Power Corporation of India states that the KKNPP is
    just 2 steps away from attaining criticality.
    It is also understood that the safety concerns of the villagers (does it
    mean us ?) are misplaced. At the same time the NPCIL assured the Supreme
    Court that there is no human population within 2km Exclusivity zone of the
    plant and no such colony as the Tsunami colony falls within this zone.
    Whoever wants can make a complaint or representation for which sufficient
    relocation, rehabilitation and compensation measures will be made. The
    NPCIL claims that sufficient caution has been taken about the population
    living within 5km sterilization zone of the power plant.
    We have yet another question in our minds: So WHERE ARE WE?
    Do we exist? Do we live within the exclusivity or sterilization zone? Are
    we to go and make a representation or complaint and wait for the response?
    We understand that none of our representations or appeals have been
    considered. Now how can we make a representation about something that we do
    not ever want? We do not want to be relocated or rehabilitated. We want to
    be here by the seashore in our own birthplace. We want to pursue our
    livelihoods linked to the sea and its bounties. We want good food, water
    and access to resources here in these villages. We do not want money that
    is so ephemeral. We are willing to work hard, earn and live well. This is
    the only representation that we want to make .
    We have no complaints other than dissent about the way in which the concerned authorities are unwilling to come to us and allay our fears and doubts. We want them to assure us
    that the KKNPP will not be allowed to attain criticality at the cost of our
    lives and dreams. We want our sisters and brothers languishing in the jails
    to be released. We want our peaceful resistance to be dealt with decently
    and humanely.
    This is all we have to tell you. Please share this with the world.
    We hope this will not be the last letter we are writing to you
    Thanking you
    Oct 23, 2012
    Sisters from Idinthakarai
    *Prepared by Anitha.S after talking to women of Idinthakarai *

    UPDATE KOODANKULAM -11-member team heading for Idinthakarai detained

    SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu Oct 13, 2012

    Police suspect links with banned groups

    Members of an 11-member ‘fact-finding committee’ heading towards Idinthakarai, the hub of the protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, were arrested on Friday.

    Four of the members were from Tamil Nadu; three, including a woman, were from Cuddapah district in Andhra Pradesh; two from Jharkhand; and one each from Odisha and Delhi.

    They are affiliated to some movements and the police suspect they have close contacts with banned groups. Efforts are on to trace their background.

    Based on a tip-off that the team members were on their way to Idinthakarai in a bus, the vehicle was intercepted at the Nanguneri toll gate in the morning. The team members were taken to a marriage hall for interrogation, which revealed that they were affiliated to various organisations, including the Anti-Imperialist Movement, Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Students Uprising Movement, Anti-Evacuation Movement, Revolutionary Democratic Front and Women’s Uprising Movement.

    Since activities of all these organisations are under scanner and the movement of persons linked to these outfits are being monitored by security agencies, they were detained. Moreover, they cannot be allowed to enter a place where prohibitory orders are in place,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police, Valliyoor Sub-Division, N.K. Stanley Jones. Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli, Vijayendra S. Bidari and Additional Superintendent of Police, K. Mahendran interrogated them in the evening.

    The police have registered cases against them under various sections of the IPC. “We’ve also seized some literature from them,” Mr. Jones said.


    The details of those arrested on 12 October, 2012, as per the list I have at present include:

    1. Palani Sami – Anti Imperialist Movement (Karur)
    2. Agaraadhi – Podhu Nala Pengal Ezhuchi Iyyakam (Madurai)
    3. Kesavan-CPCL Madurai
    4. Jagan – Podhu Nala Manavar Ezhuchi Iyyakkam
    5. Varalakshmi– Andhra Pradesh student
    6. Pradeepa Human rights activists Jharkhand
    7. Damodar – PUCL Delhi
    8. Priyadarshini – JNU (DSU)

    9Aravind Abiyaas from Jharkhand

    10 Hameed, a student from Andhra Pradesh
    Names of 1  others not known

    Crime FIR no 216/2 Sections 143/188/194b/ 353/ 362/ 506 of IPC r/w 7(1) A of CLA Act


    In a separate but unrelated incident last Saturday, another group of people who had gathered at a private school to discuss plans of setting up a trade union were picked up at the behest of the notorious Q branch, arrested and remanded in Vellore Jail. The police has managed to defeat the bail application on the basis of arguments that the arrested people are from the Maoist party. This incident was not related to Koodankulam, but speaks of a noticeable and disturbing trend in Tamil Nadu.

    Total number of people arrested

    13 people

    Date of arrest: Saturday 6th October

    Names with age of the persons under arrest

    Bhaskar ~40

    Duraisingavel ~


    Kumaragurubaran 61

    (Maniko) G Paneerselvam ~35– Professor ulga tamil arachi niruvanam

    Poovi Arasan (salem -28) Sft ware engg

    Senthil Kumar


    Murali Mohan (thiruvannamalai)

    Suresh Kumar


    Mugilan (thiruvannamalai)

    Ragini –w/o duraisingavel


    Name of the organization they are part off

    Makkal Jananayaga Kudiarasu Katchi (peoples Democratic republic party)

    Sections under which they have been arrested

    17 (1) of Criminal Law Amendment Act : (unlawful assembly)

    Jail location: Vellore prison

    Place of arrest: Kundrathur Paavendar Tamilvayi Palli (tamil medium school)

    Name of the police station: Kundrathur police station

    history of the event

    The members of the party had assembled to discuss about setting up and registering trade union on a industry basis. They assembled about 10am. Discussion were happening. Permission had been sought from the school authorities (Palani’s daughters are studying in the school and he had sought permission). evening around 5:30 pm Q branch police along with local police numbering 20 entere dthe premises and started to enquire about them. They wanted to know the reason for the meeting and to know about the organization and collected the personal details of the people present. By this time Bhaskar had contacted a few advoctes but he was not sure they would be arrested. They continued with to the enquiry even upto 9:30pm and then the police arrested them.

    The arrest was done by the kundrathur police on the complaint of Q branch SI Mohan. The complainant maintains that the persons were gathered in the school and conducting a meeting in a closed room in which the lights had been put off. ————

    police account

    The group had no permission. The members ar e part of the banned maoist party. SOme of th emembers have been convicted or have charges under POTA.

    they had unlawfully assembled (in the sense they did not get any permission from the police) and were secretly discussing. (this part is unclear as adv Natarajan was not too clear)


    Bail moved

    Bail was moved on Monday (8th) at the Magistrate Court in Sriperumbudur. the case came up for hearing on Wednesday (10th )where the judge adjourned the case to Friday (12th) as the PP sought time to file the counter by the police and state.

    Status of bail application

    On Friday (12th) the bail was dismissed as the judge accepted the PP’s argument that they were known maoists with previous charges and the police need time to investigate.




    Just A Word Away, From Dr. Abdul Kalam to Women of Idinthakarai

    By Anitha.S

    30 September, 2012

    There was a recent reference to Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s statement “ The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a project of God for fulifilling the electricity production and need of this country which will be 50,000 mw in 2030.It is a necessary project” ( Deccan Heralad, Sept 26,2012).

    At the same time this came in the newspapers, the women of Idintakarai village, the closest to the KKNPP shared their views on the real project of God. This was not published anywhere but will perhaps go down in the annals of history as a perspective tempered by years of thought about peace and harmony. Chellamma who lost her dear brother Sahayam to a mishap caused by the aircraft which flew low on the people who had aggregated in the sea said in her quiet tone
    “ Does this land and sea belong to us? Is it the Government who gave it to us? This sand is sacred .It is a gift of God. We have lived here for ages. We will not leave this land”

    Chinna Thankam who taxed her aged body by being on fast for more than a week in March 2012 became eloquent one evening:
    “ We are children of the Ocean. We have grown up playing in the ocean. The Ocean mother gives us many gifts by which we live. We do not know of any life away from the sea”

    The 2 sentences from the women of Idinthakarai which is echoed by many seems a world away from Dr.Kalam’s statement which is connected to a few megawatts of electricity. It may seem incongruous and not so opportunate to write about 10 year old Shyamili (whose mother went missing since September 10th and who has been found in Trichy jail) who expressed her anguish about the radiated fish that would be exported to other places spreading the danger to children elsewhere”

    Many women were more concerned about the future generations and the impact on the sea life and atmosphere. This is happening at a time when the KKNPP is getting the green signal with no comprehensive study yet being done on the ecology and environment of the area. The currents and tides which determine the migratory shoals of fishes on which the fisher folk depend is unknown. The temperature of the ocean which is crucial for the life forms to survive as there is a definite zonation based on the variations in heat and cold. The characteristic pattern of the food chain which determines the abundance of higher forms like fishes are unknown. The producers in the marine food chain like the plankton and algae which inhabit the surface waters in the sea where sunlight is available will be most affected when unfamiliar temperature rise happens. This is in addition to issues of concern like impingement and entrainment and destruction in large numbers of phyto and zoo plankton , fish eggs and larvae of many sea creatures that will hamper the food chain of the marine ecosystem. How can this biological chain reaction that will lead to a biodiversity collapse be enclosed in a single sentence “ this is a project of God” or a blanket statement “ It is safe”? The green clearance that was given in 2008 does not furnish the details of impact of 7 degree rise of temperature on the marine system but just states that for Koodankulam it is this and for Jaitapur it is 5 degree Celsius.

    We need to do a complete review of the ecological impact of the Nuclear power plant on the marine and terrestrial ecosystem in the region along with the vulnerability of exposure for migratory fishes and birds along with pelagic birds that inhabit the surface waters. Yes. Koodankulam region is certainly God’s gift not the Koodankulam Nuclear power plant. Because the sea and the land has sustained human life and culture for many years. What we need now is a comprehensive recheck and review of the norms and mandates that have cleared the project. In the case of nuclear power plants where humans are playing God and manipulating the life of future generations, it is never too late to stop. Let Koodankulam be a pointer.

    From Dr.Kalam to the women of the coastal villages, Koodankulam is just a word away. And if you change it from a God’s project to a God’s gift a whole world is gained instead of a few megawatts of power.

    Anitha.S on 29.9.2012 (

    Is it a crime to question? #Koodankulam #protest

    Sunday Magazine, The Hindu, Sep 30, 2012

    When women choose to protest, they face forms of harassment to break their spirit.

    Road Roko:They know what’s in store.Photo: A.ShaikMohideen

     Road Roko:They know what’s in store.Photo: A.ShaikMohideen

    For more than a year now, these women have made the shamiana their home.


    When you enter Idinthakarai village, the epicentre of the storm swirling around the controversial Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, everything appears calm but also quiet in an unreal way. Where are all the people? It is only when you go a little further that you see the shamiana erected in front of the Lourde Matha church and the hundreds of women and children sitting under it. For more than a year now, these women have made the shamiana their home. They sleep, eat, fast, sing songs, raise slogans and each day renew their commitment to the protest against the KNPP.

    Until September 10, they did not think twice about the discomfort and hardship. Many of them are from villages some distance away. How do they bathe? Where is the toilet? Some of them say they eat and drink very little through the day so that they can avoid going to the toilet. But they have to feed their children.

    To do this, some of them get up before dawn, prepare the food in their homes, and then come back by sunrise to sit in the tent the rest of the day and the night.

    On September 20 and 21, when I met some of these women, their spirits were high but their bodies were wounded. Women were in the front row of the protest on September 9 and 10, on the beach of Idinthakarai, to “lay siege to the plant”. Needless to say, the siege was metaphorical, for no one can go anywhere near this highly guarded plant.

    Did these women not expect the police to react and break up the protest, I asked Ritamma, a 43-year-old single woman. They genuinely did not, she says. On the 9{+t}{+h}, many of the protestors had felt sorry for the women police who were practically fainting in the heat. They had even offered water.

    But on September 10, the story was different. Despite the presence of so many women and children, there was a lathi charge and tear gas shells were thrown into the crowd. Men and women ran into the sea to escape the police. But there was no escape.

    As a result, scores of women and men, including old men, have been wounded by the lathi or have burns caused by the explosion of the tear gas shells. With these wounds has come the realisation that in a democracy, even a peaceful protest is not tolerated. The women are puzzled about this. What did we do wrong, they ask? Can we not ask questions? Why does no one listen to our questions and talk to us directly?

    No simpletons these

    Indeed, why does no one listen? You hear words like “misled”, or “instigated” by representatives of the police, the government and the nuclear power establishment. What they are suggesting is that these women lack intelligence, that they are simpletons who can be “misled”. It is assumed that if people are either poor, or unlettered, they have no ability to understand “complex” issues. But for the women in Idinthakarai there is nothing complex about the problem they are facing. Their future has been tied to a technology that has been proven to have devastating consequences in the event of an accident. And an accident can occur from a natural disaster – like a tsunami about which they are well aware, as they were affected in 2004 – or human error. No one can guarantee that there will never be a human error.

    That is one side of the story. The other is the specific impact on women when they join a struggle and risk the wrath of the state law and order machinery. Men are beaten, or locked up. But for women there are specific forms of harassment to break their spirit.

    Woman after woman spoke about the sexist and abusive language used by the policemen, virtually suggesting that as they were willing to have sex with the leaders of the movement, they should offer the same to them. Some mentioned actual physical molestation. Lavinia, a 29-year-old woman disabled by childhood polio, narrated that she tried to run to save her five-year-old daughter when the lathi charge began, when a policeman grabbed her arm and began dragging her away. When she resisted, he physically molested her. She fell at his feet and begged and was saved when another policeman intervened. “I feel so sad and angry when I think of it”, she says.

    That is what all of us should feel – sad but also angry. Why, if women choose to resist, to protest, should they be sexually targeted? And that too by the very people who are supposed to be our “protectors”?

    Despite the events of September 10, and the personal humiliation and taunts that these women heard, they remain resolute. You can “mislead” someone for a day. But will anyone volunteer to go through all this for over a year without understanding what she is resisting?



    India- Children slapped with sedition charges #WTFnews

    4 children arrested near Idinthakarai face sedition charges


    A Coast Guard aircraft flies over anti-nuclear protestors, who began a jal satyagraha against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) by standing the whole day in the sea on Thursday. The year-long protest turned violent on Monday. PTI Photo
    A Coast Guard aircraft flies over anti-nuclear protestors, who began a jal satyagraha against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) by standing the whole day in the sea on Thursday. The year-long protest turned violent on Monday. PTI Photo

    Four boys, aged between 15 and 16 years, who were arrested by the police during and after Monday’s clash between the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project protesters and the police near Idinthakarai, are now facing serious charges including sedition.

    All the four – one each from Vairaavikinaru, Idinthakarai and two from Kudankulam – have been lodged in the Juvenile Home on the South Bypass Road near the western entrance of Vaeinthaankulam New Bus Stand in Tirunelveli.

    If the sedition charges framed against them are proved, they can be punished with imprisonment for life.

    The Kudankulam police have registered a case against the boy from Vairaavikinaru under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 431 (damaging road, bridge, river, channel etc.), 121(A) (conspiring to overawe, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, the Central Government or any State Government), 395 (dacoity), 307 (attempt to murder) r/w 149 IPC (unlawful assembly) and Sec 3 of TNPPDL Act (causing damage to public property).

    The boy from Idinthakarai, who was reportedly arrested during the clash, is facing charges under Sections 147, 148, 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) r/w 144 Cr. P. C and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 352 (assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation), 294 (b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place), 307, 427 (mischief to cause minor damage) IPC r/w 149 IPC and Section 13 of Unlawful Assembly Act and Section 3 of TNPPDL Act.

    Of the four, the children from Kundankulam are facing grave charges as they have been booked under Sections 147,148, 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 431, 188 IPC r/w 144 Cr. P. C., ,291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 294(b), 121 (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India), 124(A) (sedition) 307 IPC r/w 149 IPC and 3 of TNPPDL ACT and Section 4 of Endangered Species Act.

    Latest update- Pictures- KOODANKULAM- Protestors seek support #Sunday

    2:33 pm

    Nity just spoke to a protester who’s at the siege site (east end wall of the nuke plant) on Idinthakarai seashore. There are atleast 8000 people at the siege site now facing severe weather. Drinking water is not available at the site but arrangements are being made to arrange for the same.

    The protesters seek the support of all groups and organisations to organise solidarity events and meetings all over India.

    12:48 pm

    Tirunelveli SP Vijeyandra Bidari has reached the spot. The police are right next to the protesters now. Protesters say that the SP is making some announcement on the megaphone but they are not able to hear anything

    12:30 pm

    Thousand people from Periya thaalai village who were on their way to Idinthakarai were stopped by the police. The people are now on their way to attend a hunger protest held in Pani maya madha church in Tuticorin. Fishermen from Tuticorin are already on a hunger protest at the church. The police is not allowing protestors to head towards Idinthakarai to participate in the protest.

    Protesters plan to lay siege to #Kudankulam Nuclear project site today





    Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

    Kudankulam Nuclear Plant (Photo credit: Eunheui)


    An uneasy calm prevails in Kudankulam and Idinthakarai in the wake of the protesters’ threat to march towards the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project site on Sunday for laying siege to it, and the deployment of around 4,000 police personnel to face any eventuality.


    The anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project agitation, which started a year ago at Idinthakarai, has almost reached the climax with the protesters making a last-ditch effort to prevent enriched uranium fuel being loaded on to the first reactor.

    If the fuel loading passes off uneventfully, then the year-long agitation will become meaningless, feel the protesters, who also believe that their desperate move will exert pressure on the Union Government to put off plans for commissioning the KKNPP.

    The agitation, hitherto confined to coastal hamlets, may overflow on the roads leading to the KKNPP as part of the protest, which may trigger a possible conflict with the police.


    Announcements were made by priests in a few churches in the coastal villages of the district on Saturday morning appealing to the devotees to join the ‘satyagraha’ on Sunday.

    Anticipating a huge mobilisation by protesters from various coastal villages from Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, around 4,000 police personnel have been deployed on the roads near Kudankulam and Idinthakarai. Sandbags have been piled up by the police on the roadside.


    Warning ribbons have been tied around the ground-level wells – both used and unused – around Vairaavikinaru to caution passersby. “The protesters may run for cover in case of a possible police action tomorrow. To prevent them from falling into the wells, we’ve tied the warning ribbons,” said a police officer. Perfect functioning of all streetlights in this region has been ensured by the local panchayats following a direction from the Assistant Director (Panchayat).

    During vehicle checks by officials attached to the Regional Transport Offices at Tenkasi, Tirunelveli and the Motor Vehicle Inspectors of Valliyoor, 20 vehicles, including jeeps, autorickshaws and an earthmover, which did not have valid documents, were seized. The impounded vehicles have been taken to the Radhapuram police station.




    The Silent and Telling Emergency in India

    S. P. Udayakumar, Idinthakarai, June 26, 2012

    Today is the 37th anniversary of the infamous emergency that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed on the people of India. While some people were quite happy that the bureaucrats came to offices on time, shopkeepers kept price lists outside their shops, trains were punctual and so forth, many people were worried and concerned about the curtailment of our freedoms and entitlements. As a 15-year-old boy, I was worried about my father’s safety (as he was active in the DMK party), the complete absence of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and most importantly, freedom from fear. People were afraid to speak their minds out, the newspapers were full of blank spaces because of censorship, and the society was enveloped by a thin layer of fear and suspicion. That was not the India I had grown up to love and cherish. Never did I imagine even in my wildest nightmares that I would find myself in a similar but silent emergency after some 37 years of liberty and freedom.

    Today is the 100th day of my and Pushparayan’s self-exile here at Idinthakarai. On March 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM the Personal Assistant (General) of the Tirunelveli Collector called me and asked me and Fr. F. Jayakumar, the Parish Priest of Idinthakarai, to go and meet the Collector in his office the next morning at 10 am. The Collector, Dr. R. Selvaraj, himself called me later that night and the next day morning asking us to go and meet him. A warning bell rang in my mind and I told my friends that we were all going to be arrested. My intuition proved to be right; some 200 of our friends from Koodankulam, Koottapuli, Chettikulam and Erode were arrested. Rayan and I and 13 others embarked on an indefinite hunger strike demanding our friends’ immediate and unconditional release.

    The Superintendent of Police, Mr. Vijayendra Bidari, called me on my mobile on March 19th evening and asked me to surrender. With him still on the phone, I asked the thousands of people who had gathered there for their permission to surrender and they all shouted down the idea. I asked the SP to send enough vehicles and two officers with the arrest warrants so that we all would get arrested en masse. He did not like that idea and hung up by saying, This is the last time I speak to you. We used to speak to each other quite often as I got his oral permission for all our rallies, campaigns and public meetings.

    Ever since March 18th, Rayan and I never left this small coastal village (except two short visits to the nearby Kuthenkuzhi village by sea). Thousands of people including women and children from all the neighboring villages were keeping a constant round-the-clock vigil to protect us from police action. The Tamil Nadu government imposed 144 prohibitory orders in our area and blocked our access to food, water, electricity and other essentials such as baby food, vegetables and fruits. Young mothers were forced to feed their babies sugar water; pregnant women could not go to hospital; and men could not leave or enter the village. We were surrounded by a massive deployment of police personnel from all over Tamil Nadu and paramilitary forces. We rightly called the situation another Mullivaikal. Indeed, it was!

    Pushparayan, Jesuraj and I are not afraid of police arrest or incarceration; we just do not want the struggle to be folded up by the Tamil Nadu police, the Government of India and its intelligence agencies. This is the reason why we have decided not to venture out of Idinthakarai. This self-exile has not been easy or smooth-going. But the singular achievement of our self-exile is keeping the struggle alive and active with several hunger strikes, public meetings, campaigns, planning meetings and other assorted activities.

    So far, more than 300 false cases have been filed against us, the leaders of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), and the struggling people of southern Tamil Nadu. Up until December 31, 2011 some 170 FIRs were filed against us. A friend tabulated these cases and had this to say: Just between September and December 2011, FIRs (First Investigation Report) have been filed against 55,795 people and an undisclosed number of “others.” At least 21 sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) have been used, include Section 121 (Waging War against the Government of India) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The Koodankulam police station has the dubious distinction, perhaps, of being the station where the largest number of “sedition” and “waging war” cases has been filed in the shortest time in the history of colonial and independent India. Here is a partial list of cases that were filed against us just in October and November of 2011:

    Cr. No. 299/11 D.O. 13.10.11

    Sec. 121, 143, 188, 153(A), 341, 506(1), 505(1)(b) & 7(1)(a) CLA Act R/W 120(b)

    S P. Udayakumar and 19 others (including 4 women)

    Cr. No. 301/11 D.O. 14.10.1

    Sec. 143, 147, 188 R/W 34

    S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others (including one woman) as well as 2,000 people

    Cr. No. 303/11 D.O. 14.10.11

    Sec. 147, 148, 341, 294(b), 353, 506(ii) IPC R/W 34.

    S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others (including one woman) as well as 1,000 people

    Cr. No. 304/11 D.O. 14.10.11

    Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

    S. P. Udayakaumr and 2 others as well as 15 supporters

    Cr. No. 305/11 D.O. 14.10.11

    Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

    S. P. Udayakumar and two others as well as many people

    Cr. No. 306/11 D.O. 14.10.11

    Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

    Allwyn and four others as well as many people
    Cr. No. 307/11 D.O. 14.10.11

    Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(II) IPC R/W 34 IPC

    S. P. Udayakumar and three others as well as many
    Cr. No. 315/11 D.O. 15.10.11

    Sec. 109, 121, 124 (A), 125, 143, 153(A), 341, 353, 505(1)(b), 506(i) IPC & Sec 3 of

    PDDL Act & 7(1)(a) CLA Act. R/W 120 IPC

    S. P. Udayakumar and 16 others (including 6 priests, 2 doctors, 2 women)

    Cr. No. 316/11 D.O. 16.10.11

    Sec. 147, 188, 353, 341 R/W 34 IPC.

    S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others
    Cr. No. 372/11 D.O. 21.11.11

    Sec. 121, 124A, 143, 153(A), 447, 505(1)(b) & 7(1)(a) CLA Act, 120(B).

    S. P. Udayakumar and 14 others as well as 3,000 people
    Cr. No. 373/11 D.O. 21.11.11

    Sec. 143, 188, 147, 124(A), 153(A)

    S. P. Udayakumar and 19 others as well as 450 people
    As you can see, some of the above cases carry the charges of sedition and waging war against the Indian State. But what is interesting is the fact that the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the Tirunelveli District Collector, the Tirunelveli Superintendent of Police (SP) and many other officials have been meeting with us on a regular basis as the diary below establishes. The question here is if we are guilty of sedition and of waging war against the Indian State and so forth, don’t these officials become co-conspirators in our crimes and stand accused of abetting us, the dangerous criminals? Shouldn’t the same charges be brought against them also?

    September 15, 2011

    Tamil Nadu Ministers Mr. Chellapandian, Mr. Chenthur Pandian, Mr. Shanmuganathan, Mr. Nainar Nagendran, MLA, and Mr. Rajendran, MLA came along with the District Collector, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Superintendent of Police (SP), Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) and a few other officials to Radhapuram to meet with the Struggle Committee members.

    September 21, 2011

    The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu met with us in her office and passed a cabinet resolution the next day asking the central government to halt all the work until the fears and concerns of the local people were allayed. The Catholic Bishops of Kottar and Thoothukudi and the CSI Bishops of Tirunelvei and Thoothukudi and several other prominent citizens were with us. The CM talked to us for some 45 minutes.

    October 7, 2011

    A large delegation of the Struggle Committee members, the Catholic Bishops of Kottar and Thoothukudi and the CSI Bishops of Tirunelvei and Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu politicians, MPs and Tamil Nadu ministers met with the Prime Minister of India under the leadership of Tamil Nadu Finance Minister, Mr. O. Panneerselvam. Minister of State Mr. V. Narayanaswamy, Dr. Sreekumar Banerjee, the head of the Department of Atomic Energy, Dr. S. K. Jain, the head of the NPCIL, Mr. Shivsankar Menon, National Security Advisor, were also with us during the meeting.

    October 10, 2011

    Some of the Struggle Committee members had talks with the RDO and Additional Deputy SP (ADSP) from 12:30 to 3:00 PM; we insisted on their honoring the Tamil Nadu Cabinet resolution and stopping work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).

    October 20, 2011

    Some of the Struggle Committee members met with Kerala Minister Mr. P. J. Joseph, Chief Minister Mr. Oomen Chandi, and the opposition leader Mr. V.S. Achuthanandan in their homes and/or offices.

    November 1, 2011

    Some of the Struggle Committee members were at the Collector office talking to the Collector from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm.

    November 7, 2011

    Some members of the Struggle Committee spent several hours talking to the Collector in his office.

    November 8, 2011

    M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.
    November 16, 2011

    Some of the Struggle Committee members met the SP in his office at 3:00 pm; then we met with the District Revenue Officer (DRO) and the Collector’s Personal Assistance (General) at the Collector Office.

    November 18, 2011

    In the second meeting of the team, M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.

    November 30, 2011

    Some of the Struggle Committee members went to the Collector’s office and met with the PA(G) at 5:00 pm; waited for the Collector who came only at 6:30 pm. Complained to him about more people entering the KKNPP, Dinamalar’s criminal activities, and the Tamil Nadu government’s slapping severe cases on us. He promised to look into all these issues and to send the RDO and the Deputy SP (DSP) to the KKNPP premises.

    December 13, 2011

    S. Sivasubramanian, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar went to see the Collector at 5 PM. We had a long discussion with the Collector, the Planning Officer, RDO, ASP, one other official, and the PA(G) about the inflow of workers and vehicles into the KKNPP.

    December 15, 2011

    In the third meeting of the team, M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.

    January 3, 2012

    Some Struggle Committee members met the PA(G) at 5:30 pm as the Collector wasn’t there in his office. We gave him a memo for the Chief Minister.
    January 6, 2012

    Met with the ASP, ADSP and Inspectors of Koodankulam and Radhapuram police stations and discussed the people’s siege issue at length. The officials agreed to go and check the presence of workers at the KKNPP tomorrow.
    January 12, 2012

    Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar gave a memorandum to the BSNL officer at Radhapuram and the Tahsildar of Radhapuram. Then some of the Struggle Committee members went to Cheranmahadevi to meet the Sub-Collector, Ms. Rohini Ramdas Bidari at her office.
    January 20, 2012

    S. Sivasubramanian, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar went to Tirunelveli to meet the SP and handed over a complaint about the Dinamalar newspaper. Then met with the PA(G) of Collector about the same issue. Later met with the Collector in his office and discussed about the Jan 31st meeting.


    January 31, 2012

    The fourth meeting with the Central government’s Expert Group did not take place. As our car entered the compound and approached the main office, a small group of some 15 men (both Congress and Hindu Munnani thugs) came rushing towards our car and pelted stones and attacked the vehicle. We drove out of the Collector office compound and refused to participate in the talks. Talked to the press and left the scene. Police escort came and took us to the Muntradaippu police station; The SP also came and met us there. In the meantime, some 10,000 people had gathered in front of the KKNPP front gate. We rushed to Koodankulam and talked to the people for almost an hour and asked them to disperse peacefully. The DIG, SP, RDO and several hundred policemen were there at Koodankulam. Took some people to meet the DIG at the Koodankulam police station and had a dialogue with him. Took the injured women to Radhapuram govt. hospital for treatment and they were all admitted as in-patients.

    February 18, 2012

    People laid a siege in front of the KKNPP from 12 pm till 9 pm. The Tamil Nadu government’s expert panel visited the KKNPP site at around 5:30 pm. They were there for hardly an hour. We held talks with the DIG and the Collector at the Koodankulam police station with two demands: reducing the work force at KKNPP to 20 and the Tamil Nadu panel should come to our villages to meet with the people.

    February 19, 2012

    Some of the Struggle Committee members went to the Collectorate in the afternoon. We had a long meeting with the team, Dr. Iniyan, Dr. M.R. Sreenivasan, Mr. Vijayaraghavan and Dr. Arivu Oli. The Collector, SP, DRO, RDO and PA(G) were also there.

    February 29, 2012

    We met the AIADMK MP Mr. Manoj Pandian as we were waiting to meet with the Chief Minister and talked to him about the struggle. M. Pushparayan, S. Sivasubramanian, Dr. R. Ramesh and S. P. Udayakumar met with the CM. She stood up, smiled and received us. I gave her some of my books. I spoke for some 15 minutes which she listened to very carefully and attentively. When I paused, she said, Have you finished? Then Dr. Ramesh spoke for 5 minutes and gave some of his reports. She said, I’ll go through them carefully. We thanked her and left.
    More than 300 cases including sedition and waging war against the State’ charges and life in self exile in a remote coastal village without any mobility, family, access to health care, and other essentials of life make me remember the Emergency and MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) days. Yes, there is a silent emergency prevailing in India today.

    The State that accuses us of waging war against it is indeed waging a war against its own people. Also we have to ask what is seditious today in India. The Manmohan Singh government has scores of ministers who are accused of serious corruption and fraudulence charges but it is the common people like us who struggle for the safety and betterment of our people stand accused of sedition.

    The Manmohan Singh government, the most controversial government independent India has ever had, has tried all kinds of dirty tricks to put down our struggle and the movement. They have been accusing us of receiving foreign money, acting at the behest of foreign powers, conspiring with the Catholic Church, conniving with opposition parties and so on. They have damaged my school, destroyed the poor little children’s library books, vandalized the children’s water taps, intimidated the family members, and indulged in all kinds of inhuman, devious and criminal behavior. The Indian government and the Department of Atomic Energy have refused to give any information to the public and are speaking half-truths, non-truths and complete nonsense just to mislead the country and enhance their own self interests.

    Having exhausted all options to end opposition to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the Government of India now plans to take a peek into all our minds and remove any fears with the help of psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. The government is getting sicker and sillier.

    Besides the prevailing silent emergency,’ there is also a telling emergency in the country, viz. we are stuck with a government that works for foreign governments, foreign corporations, foreign interests, and cannot for a second accept the simple fact that ordinary Indians’ can think through policy issues, take a stand on them, and stand up for their rights. We have got an emergency situation indeed.

    Note: S. P. Udayakumar is the Coordinator of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and the opinions expressed here are his own. For contact:  .

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