At Pen, police arrest 22 protesters for violating prohibitory orders

The three-day Tarapur-to-Jaitapur yatra hit another roadblock on Sunday, as the police continued detaining activists.

Interrupting a rally at Pen in the morning, the police detained 22 protesters of the National Anti-Nuclear Plant Yatra for violating prohibitory orders imposed on Saturday night.

“They were detained under Section 68 of the Bombay Police Act. Prohibitory orders were put in place last night. [We were told] the demonstrators would come, and there would be a likelihood of a law and order problem,” the Pen police told The Hindu.

Among those detained was local MLA Dhairyashil Patil of the Peasants and Workers Party. This is the second day in a row that the police have tried to stall the bus yatra, which is scheduled to reach Jaitapur on Monday.

As the yatra began on Saturday, they detained 135 activists for the whole day, letting them off only in the night and after the detainees went on a fast.

After the violence flared in Jaitapur, the government is intent on guarding the fragile calm.

Asked how long the police would continue detaining activists, a senior government official, who did not wish to be named, said: “Jaitapur is still very sensitive. Tempers are running high. In the present situation, we have to bring back normality, till things settle down. We will take a decision [on the yatra]. Our job is to see that peace prevails.”

The State is literally stalking every move of the protestors at every step. Neeraj Jain, one of the protesters, said: “On Saturday, the police released us at 10.30 p.m. They intimidated our two bus drivers by telling them they would lose their licences if they drove us. So, they refused to take us to Pen. At midnight, one of them declared the bus had broken down and would not go further. The other said he would lose his job if he took us. We requested them to take us at least to Thane. In Thane, a union leader made some arrangements for our stay. We had our dinner at 5 a.m. and rested a while. We knew we were going to be detained again. So we moved out in small groups and made it to Pen.”

At Pen, they started a morcha, which the local MLA joined. “While the police detained some protesters, they gheraoed the rest. They released us around 4 p.m. Now, we are trying to figure out our plan. If they don't want us to go ahead, why don't they just arrest us?,” asked Mr. Jain.