Thousands of police personnel are being posted in and around Koodankulam on May 7-8. There seem to be reliable tips that the authorities are planning to clamp down the protest and arrest all in the near future. Such a pre-dawn operation that the government usually does could be bloody as many thousands of men, women and children from several villages are sleeping around the Church at Idinthakarai where a hunger strike takes place since May 1.
In the most southern part of India, Tamil Nadu, the local population is fighting the largest nuclear complex under construction in the world: Koodankulam. Although the protest originates from the 1980's it intensified dramatically last year after Fukushima and the announcement by the government that the first of six reactors would enter test-operation late 2011. Many thousands op people took to the streets and acted continuously against Koodankulam, resulting in postponing operation of the nuclear reactor. State repression has always been harsh, but is escalating since last year, against the non-violent activities of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) (for more see: Nuclear Monitor 744, March 16 2012: Crackdown on anti-nuclear activists and NGOs)
The Indian government has announced that the first reactor at Koodankulam will go critical in May/June. More than 55,000 people have been falsely charged including for sedition. This makes a travesty of democracy.
On May 1, around 8000 people gathered at the protest grounds at Idinthakarai to declare their solidarity to the ongoing struggle. 24 Activists embarked on an indefinite hunger strike. Despite official promises, their demands about the legality and safety of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant have not been met. A few days later, on May 4, hundreds of women joined in the hungerstrike.
On May 8, another campaign started: Respect India. 'Respect India’ is a call similar to ‘Quit India’ fervently made by the ordinary citizens of India at Idinthakarai on May 8, 2012. ‘Quit India’ was a civil disobedience movement launched in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech delivered on August 8, 1942 at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay. Gandhiji’s call for determined, but passive resistance appeared in his appeal to “Do or Die.”
India is facing a similar “Do or Die” situation today as our sovereignty, independence, freedom, natural resources, livelihood of the poor, their right to life, and the very future of the country are at imminent peril. The ruling class and their establishment care for the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor and powerless. There is no respect for ordinary Indian citizens’ life or dignity.
Just as the freedom fighters asked the colonial rulers to ‘Quit India,’ we, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy fighters, request the corrupt and communal ruling class in India to ‘Respect India,’ respect the Indian citizens’ lives, rights and entitlements.
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy has the following demands:
* Release all anti-nuclear peace activists from prison unconditionally
* Withdraw all false charges against tens of thousands of people
* Institute an independent and transparent national committee on hydrology, geology and oceanography of the region
* Conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises everywhere in 30 km radius of KKNPP
* Share a copy of the secret inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia in 2008 on liability
* Divulge relevant information about KKNPP nuclear waste and management
* Respect the democratic rights of people to oppose the KKNPP peacefully and non-violently.
Organize protest, contact media, human and environmental rights organizations, social networks, politicians, locally and globally and let India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa <email@example.com> know what you think about the issue!
Latest: It is difficult to get reliable news. The people in Idinthakarai are in a virtual prison, and cannot go out to verify. Our friends from Tirunelveli suggest that 2000 police officers, are posted in and around Idinthakarai. The fear is that the police will attempt to arrest Udayakumar and Pushparayan. But police officials claim that the 2000istrong police force were posted as a precautionary measure, and that they have no intent to move into the village. That is a bit difficult to believe. At the very least, this is war talk.
Source and contact: People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tel: + 91-98656 83735; or +91-98421 54073