Talks between Central experts' team and State panel adjourned

The much-awaited talks between the Central experts team on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project and the State panel, scheduled for Tuesday, did not take place after a couple of anti-nuke protestors were roughed up by Hindu Munnani activists on the Collectorate premises here even as they arrived at the venue for talks.

The Palayamkottai police have arrested 14 persons, including Hindu Munnani State vice-president V.P. Jayakumar, in this connection. They were remanded in the evening.

The Central team had to abruptly adjourn the talks following the unsavoury developments. The date for the next round of talks, if any, will be finalised after holding talks with the convener of the Central team A.E. Muthunayagam and convener of the anti-KKNPP struggle committee S.P. Udayakumar, who declared, after the scuffle, that the ongoing protest would continue with much vigour and there was no scope for further talks with the Central panel since there was no safety and security for the anti-nuke activists who come for talks.

“We cannot be cowed down by such undemocratic intimidations, being unleashed by the Congress and Hindu fanatics”.

Even as the Central team members were waiting at the Collector's chamber on the first floor of the Collectorate for the arrival State panel members M. Pushparayan and Rev. Fr. M.P. Jesuraj, a group of Hindu Munnani activists and local office-bearers, led by Mr. Jayakumar, came to the venue to submit a memorandum to the Collector, seeking immediate arrest of Dr. Udayakumar and others, including RC Bishop of Tuticorin Diocese Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise “for inciting violence and triggering panic by spreading rumours about the KKNPP.”

While Mr. Jayakumar was speaking to the waiting reporters, the sports utility vehicle carrying anti-nuke protestors, including Mr. Pushparayan, Rev. Fr. Jesuraj, Dr. Udayakumar and Muhilan entered the Collectorate premises. On seeing them, about 15 Hindu Munnani activists accompanying Mr. Jayakumar charged towards the vehicle and forcibly opened the door to drag Mr. Muhilan out of the vehicle. A group of 16 women, all accompanying the anti-nuke protestors in a separate van, surrounded the Hindu Munnani activists and assaulted them with their footwear.

In the melee, a stone was thrown on the windscreen of the anti-nuke protesters' vehicle, damaging it. Despite the effort of the police, it took nearly five minutes to bring back normality.

Slogans raised

While the Hindu Munnani functionaries were immediately detained and taken to the Palayamkottai police station, the agitated anti-nuke group women raised slogans condemning the attack.

Following this development, Dr. Udayakumar and his team left the Collectorate premises after declaring that they would not take part in the talks anymore “as the Centre has started exterminating the anti-nuke protesters”.

As they informed their relatives about this incident, church bells in all coastal hamlets of the district around 11.15 a.m. mobilised fishermen from all these villages near the Kamaraj statue close to the main gate of KKNPP site an hour later. A road roko was staged condemning the attack.

However, a brief address by Dr. Udayakumar, who lauded the police for their timely intervention, pacified the crowd around 4.30 p.m.