KKNPP Update 2 April: Police picks up fight with Kootapulli villagers; lob teargas, beat up fishermen

2 April, 2013 — between 4-5 p.m: A 200 strong posse of police had been deployed to the Koodankulam township area in anticipation of PMANE’s declared protest at the Township tomorrow. Instead of stationing themselves near the township, the 200-strong police force entered Koottapulli fishing village. This led to an altercation between the villagers and the police, with the former demanding that the police station themselves outside the village, as their presence inside the village vitiates the atmosphere. Instead of leaving the village, an enraged police force lobbed tear gas shells and began a baton-charge. Orders for cane charge and tear gas shells cannot be taken in the absence of senior officials. However, the Superintendent of Police was not anywhere in the vicinity at that time, and arrived much later. Two people were reportedly injured badly in the police attack. The police has currently retreated and left the village premises, even as fishing villages in the region are tense.


As conveyed by Lena Kumar to Nityanand Jayaraman

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Voices of the People vs. POSCO

Dhinkia, Orissa. Photograph by Sanjit Das. 2011.

Dhinkia, Orissa. Photograph by Sanjit Das. 2011.

Brief excerpts from the executive summary of the fact-finding report by a team of three from Alternative Law Forum and Delhi Forum, after a visit to the Dhinkia panchayat, consisting of the three villages of Dhinkia, Govindpur and Paatna, in Odisha, between 22nd December 2012 to 24th December 2012.   

[Read, download, and share the complete fact finding report from here – Captive Democracy: Abuse of criminal system to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Odisha. Feb 2013]

The Government of Orissa and Pohang Steel Company (POSCO), Republic of Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 22, 2005 for setting up an Integrated Steel Plant in Orissa, in Jagatsinghpur district, affecting 8 villages of three Gram Panchayats of Kujang Tahsil, i.e. Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Naogaon. The attempts by the district administration to acquire land have been thwarted by strong local opposition starting early 2006, primarily by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, that spearheads the movement against POSCO. In response to this resistance, the State Government has been using the tactic of the abuse of the criminal system to file numerous false criminal complaints against all persons resisting the project, including members of the PPSS leading to threats of arrest perpetually hanging over them.

The fact-finding report observed that the biased and arbitrary functioning of the police targets the villagers resisting the POSCO steel plant, instead of initiating any criminal action against the goons and other persons perpetrating violence against the villagers. The report outlined the following impacts of police actions –

  • The filing of false cases to curb this fundamental freedom of the people is nothing short of an attack on the democratic process and the values embedded in the Constitution.
  • The filing of cases and warrants against almost 2000 persons has resulted in the targeting of entire villages, who are under constant threat of arrest and have not left the villages in 6-7 years, and whenever they do leave, are constrained to do so surreptitiously. In many cases, entire families have been implicated, resulting in none of them leaving the village for years on end.
  • The inability to leave the village has resulted in a complete lack of access to medicines or any medical treatment to the villagers. A team of doctors who visited these villages found that at least 30 women needed urgent medical intervention, else their condition would deteriorate. Most arrests of persons take took place when villagers were compelled to leave the village to visit the doctor requiring medical assistance.
  • The inability to leave the village and maintain business ties has adversely impacted this trade which is the major source of livelihood for them
  • The Government has taken other forms of coercive action, and terminated government employees for having protested against the POSCO Project, including Shri Babaji Charan Samantara, who worked as postmaster in Dhinkia for 28 years and Shri Kailash Chandra Biswas was employed as a high school peon, at the Government School, Dhinkia, for over 20 years.
Over the last 8 years, the Government has made innumerable attempts to break the struggle against POSCO by employing various arm-twisting tactics. However, what is perhaps the greatest betrayal of the State against its own people, is the use of the criminal system to implicate villagers in a large number of false cases to intimidate them, instill fear in them and break them into submission.These are the days of emergency. A rapidly engulfing emergency where the State is using every underhand trick in the book to counter the legitimate and peaceful voices of dissent.
These are the days where the State does not even batter an eyelid while using water cannons on protestors against violence against women on the streets of Delhi, all under the glare of the media. Far away, where there are no cameras, no soundbites, the suppression is violent, illegal and with impunity. Our visits have revealed one character of the villagers and that is their indomitable spirit and quest for a peaceful and undisturbed life. This is what the struggle against POSCO is. And this is why we have to all join hands and mobilize all democratic means to end this continuing violence to give real meaning to our constitutional ideals.
In the light of the above, we make the following demands:
1. The Government should withdraw all the criminal cases foisted on villagers of POSCO affected villages and other members of PPSS
2. Cases must be immediately registered in regard to the violence perpetrated against the villagers of POSCO affect areas including but not restricted to the following:
a)  Against police officials in regard to the violence ob 15th May, 2010 at Balithut circle.
b)  Against hired goons in regard to the violence on 14th December, 2011during the peaceful protest against the construction of the coastal road connecting Paradip port to the proposed site of the POSCO steel plant.
3. The Government should immediately conduct an enquiry into the abuse of the criminal system to target villagers and take necessary action against all officials who are involved in the filing of false cases against villagers resisting the POSCO steel plant. The Government should respect and protect the constitutional rights of the villagers to protest and conduct itself in a democratic manner

Recent photographs from Idinthakarai, Koodankulam

Amirtharaj Stephen shares with us some of his photographs taken during the last few months covering events regarding the Anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Protests.

Click on any thumbnail to view Gallery 

UPDATE FROM DIANUKE.ORG

With the Idinthakarai-based anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) protestors gearing-up for their ultimate agitation to ensure the permanent closure of the ready-to-be-commissioned nuclear power programme within a next few days, Collector R. Selvaraj has extended the prohibitory orders promulgated under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to seven km from the KKNPP site.

The announcement was made last night shortly after 10 p.m. that enabled the officials to implement the orders from the existing 2-km radius from KKNPP site to 7 km. It will be in force till 6 p.m. June 7. After the district administration received intelligence reports that a few thousands of protestors, mostly from coastal hamlets, might block the roads leading to the KKNPP site and lay siege to the nuclear power project site, the existing prohibitory orders was extended up to 7 km under which Idinthakarai, the protest hub, also falls.

Additional reinforcements are being rushed to Kudankulam and its surroundings. Armed Reserve Police, 100 personnel from Tamil Nadu Commando Force and 100 personnel from Tamil Nadu Special Task Force had been deployed till Wednesday evening.

KOODANKULAM SPEAKS – Bookmark this page to follow Dianuke.org’s live stream from Idinthakarai and find other links relating to anti nuclear protests in Koodankulam and other parts of the world. 

KOODANKULAM PUBLIC HEARING: LIVE STREAM

Watch LIVE STREAM of May 14. 2012 Public hearing – Koodankulam & State Suppression of Democratic Rights.
Presided by Justice (Retd) A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice (Madras and Delhi High Courts) & Geeta Ramaseshan, Senior Advocate, Madras High Court, Prof. Prabha Kalvimani
Testimonies by Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Sam Rajappa, Senior Journalist, Chennai & residents of Idinthakarai, Koodankulam and surrounding areas
VENUE: Lawrence Sundaram Hall, Loyola College, Sterling Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai
DATE/TIME: 14 May, 2012. (Monday) 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Organised by: Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle

UPDATE: The link to the live stream channel has some recorded videos from May 14 2012 Public hearing.  We will post a summary this week. Below, are some links to the news coverage of the Public Hearing: 

+ DNA: FORMER DELHI HC CJ TO HIGHLIGHT KUDANKULAM ISSUE AT NHRC

+ ZEE NEWS: FORMER HC CJ TO HIGHLIGHT KUDANKULAM ISSUE AT NHRC

+ THE HINDU: JURY WANTS GOVERNMENT TO DROP CASES AGAINST ANTI NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS 

+ TIMES OF INDIA: ANTI-NUCLEAR PROTESTERS WITHDREW FAST

+ DECCAN HERALD: TN POLICE SLAMMED FOR FILING CASES AGAINST KNPP PROTESTERS

+ THE HINDU: ANTI-NUCLEAR PROTESTERS HEED JUSTICE SHAH’S CALL, END FAST

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Urgent Message from Idinthakarai – Koodankulam Update

Arrest Alert

Curfew orders have just been promulgated in our area once again right after our planning meetings with the youth, women, community elders and the Idinthakarai village committee on May 8, 2012. Thousands of police personnel are being posted in and around Koodankulam in haste. We get reliable tips that the authorities are planning to clamp down our protest and arrest all of us, possibly tonight. Such a pre-dawn operation that the government usually does could be bloody as thousands of men, women and children from several villages are sleeping around the Church at Idinthakarai.

This action may be planned to cover up a recent accident at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). It is said that two young men, Sivakumar and Esakkimuthu, were injured on May 4 in an alleged blast at KKNPP and they were admitted in a private hospital at Anjugramam. Dr. Tamilarasu who treated the men confirmed the accident according to a newspaper report (The Indian Express, May 8, 2012). One of the young men’s fathers talked to the Puthiya Thalaimurai television on May 8, 2012 that he was not even allowed to see his son.

On May 8, 2012, we also held a Press Meet at Idinthakarai at 4:00 PM in which we produced the ledgers with tens of thousands of signatures of people from some 60 villages opposing the KKNPP. This is a clear proof that the central and state governments are acting against the will of the local people and are thrusting the dangerous nuclear power project down our throats in an authoritarian and arrogant manner. We also produced some 24,000 voter ID cards that the people had surrendered in protest against the governments’ callous attitude towards the 302 women and 35 men indefinite hunger strikers. As the Indian government and the state governments do not respect ordinary people’s lives and interests in India, we also launched the “Respect India” Campaign along the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Quit India” campaign of 1942.

The Tamil Nadu police have been harassing local people when they close their shops in support of our protests or when they travel to neighboring villages. The police take individual pot shots of the people, shoot group photos, take down the vehicle numbers, abuse with foul language and intimidate them. When a curfew was imposed earlier on our area by the Tamil Nadu government on March 19, 2012, the authorities divided the local communities by announcing a Rs. 500 crore bribery package to the local bodies, stifled news reports on us by silencing the media and isolated the people by distancing the Church.

It is so strange and unfortunate that the central and state governments treat us, nonviolent and democratic Gandhian activists, as some kind of dangerous extremists. The hunger strikers are very weak and feeble but they refuse to give up without getting our demands fulfilled. Instead of talking to us, the Tamil Nadu government seems to be preparing for a highhanded behavior and violence to put us all down.

 

Please contact the following officers and demand justice for our people:

[1] Dr. R. Selvaraj, District Collector, Tirunelveli District, Tirunelveli. Phone: 91-462-2500828; Fax: 91-462-2500224; Mobile: 91-9444185000; Email:collrtnv@nic.in

[2] Mr. V. Varadharaju; Phone: 91-462-2568031; Mobile: 91-9840970530; Email: digtinrg@yahoo.co.in

[3] Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009, India; Phones: 91-44-25672345 (W); 91-44-25670215 (H); Faxes: 91-44-28133510; 25676929; 25671441; 28130787.

[4] Mr. Debendranath Sarangi, Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25671555; Fax: 91-44-25672304; Email: cs@tn.gov.in

[5] Dr. Sheela Priya, Additional Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25674234; Fax: 91-44-25675163. Email: cmcell@tn.gov.in

 

The Struggle Committee,

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy