National » Tamil Nadu

Updated: March 5, 2012 02:00 IST

I am not affluent enough to fund any organisation in India: German national

B. Kolappan
Comment (10)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Hermann Rainer Sonntag
The Hindu
Hermann Rainer Sonntag

Hermann Rainer Sonntag, the German national who was deported last week for his alleged involvement in the protests against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), pleads that he is not affluent enough to fund any organisation in India; nor is he a specialist on nuclear issues to mastermind the ongoing protests.

“There is no space in my budget for financial aid to any other people or organisations. Sometimes, it breaks my heart to see the poor people in India I cannot help,” the 49-year-old computer programmer said in an e-mail interview to The Hindu.

“I have not transferred any money to any anti-nuclear NGOs. I am not employed and I do not receive orders from any anti-nuclear-group in Germany or from somewhere else. I am no specialist on nuclear issues. Newspapers claim that I am the mastermind of the anti-Kudankulam NGO. I don't even speak a word in Tamil,” Mr. Sonntag said.

It was about 20 or 25 years ago that he first visited India. And in the past two decades, he had visited India more than 10 times, he said. Three years ago, Mr. Sonntag said, he stopped working as a computer programmer and started to live on his savings.

On whether he had ideological leanings, he said he was not a member of any political party but a “passive” member of an ecological awareness group in Germany in the town he was born. And, in his hometown Essen, he was also a member of an anti-racist /anti-fascism group. A majority of Germans were sceptical about nuclear energy and that was why nuclear power plants were being shut down there.

Asked what attracted him to India, he said he liked the people of India, especially Tamils.

“They are open minded, friendly and there are so many things I can learn there,” he said.

Explaining the reasons for staying in India for long durations, he said: “If I want to stay in Germany, I would have to work because my savings are too small. But in countries like India and Nepal, I manage to live from my savings.”

Further, he liked the climate in Nagercoil. While in India, he lived on about $10 a day.

He stayed in budget hotels that charged Rs. 200 a day. Mr. Sonntag said officials had seized his laptop and he was forced to tell them the password.

“So, they broke into it and into the external data media devices. All information I need in my life is stored there. A private photo of mine (from there) is now used in Indian media's internet pages. Therefore, I suppose they screened and copied my data,” he said.

Recalling the circumstances led to his deportation, Mr. Sonntag said police officials visited his hotel room around 10 p.m. and gave him a photocopy of the deportation order. He said he was not given any reason for his deportation. He got all his seized belongings. He was asked to pay for his flight to Germany (Rs. 69,000).

“They informed me that I will have to pack and will be brought to Chennai at once with or without my consent. They did not tell why I was being deported.”

He was taken in a van and handed over to officials at Chennai airport around noon the following day, he added.

Thanks to The Hindu's dedication to journalism for trying to find the facts first hand for a balanced and truthful report. All the other media are reporting what the police put out, as if it is gospel truth. This reminds me of another such case of the Mumbai Mirror reporting the police gospel on the police-aided harassment of a whistleblower school principal from Singapore, by a private school management in 2010, aided by Mumbai police. Within days, various media and websites were used to spread the sheer untruth (The Hindu did not report at all on it, nor did The Hindu try to put out a report with the true facts, I am not sure why). Sonntag has been harassed and maligned, just as millions of innocent fall victims to high-handed police actions in India. I hope this case will be taken up further by some civil liberties group in Germany. It is shameful that such things keep repeating in our country.

from:  KK
Posted on: Mar 7, 2012 at 12:32 IST

please refer to narayan's comment above. referring to pm manmohan
singh's statement he says 'When the nuclear disaster happened in
Japan, the first statement he made is that everything is safe in
India... But he acted like any corrupt politician will do. .....He
does this so that American companies (& politicians here) can gain a
lot of Indian money.

mr narayans comments on pm are objectionable and out of
place. the issue here is that one project has come up and vested
interests prompted by foreign money are trying to stall its launching.
no country has stopped any nuclear plant because of japan disaster.
call for review and more safeguards is ok and it should apply to all
future projects but you cannot stall an ongoing project without any
concrete proofs.

from:  R. Pandya
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 18:50 IST

Mr.Sonntag, you were wrong in assuming India to be a friendly, hospitable country. It may have been, but the British confiscated and destroyed those attributes of ours. Now we are a fascist global power in the making. Our rulers are the proud servitors to the globalist cabal. We hope one day to be another star, the proudest one of all, among the stripes. And we are marching on with our notional interests, trampling underfoot our environment, odious human rights and such like superstitions of the past - trusting in the rising GDP star which beckons so bewitchingly, to the nether side of the world.

from:  Arvind R.
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 03:24 IST

Deeply egoism driven country cannot do any better. Indian people are
vain and those in power are egoism driven. Ulti-ganga is what is the
right way to define India. "Saying everything right and doing everything
wrong". Guest is our god we say and then throw out a truly non-
threatening man out just to appear as if the Govt was right in
'identifying' the source of funding for anti-nuke protest.

from:  Sonja
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 03:06 IST

It is terrible such an incident happened to man who left his job to live in this country. We are extremely sorry Hermann. As an Indian living abroad, we would never have wanted such a thing happening to person like you. The government and thus the police should answer the high-handedness and should provide the facts to the public that resulted in Harmann's deportation.

from:  Partha Gopalan
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 21:55 IST

Mr Pandya,
You say that the PM gave a clear statement in the favour. But that is precicely the problem. When the nuclear disaster happened in Japan, the first statement he made is that everything is safe in India. If he had instead asked for a tight review of the situation and asked for stringent measures for saftey, such a statement from him would have been more believable. But he acted like any currupt politician will do.
When a disaster happens, none of these guys would be there to suffer. He does this so that American companies (& politicians here) can gain a lot of Indian money.

For those who closely follow the details, you can see that at every stage, the government want to dilute the already weak laws to make it easy for foriegn companies with only profit as objective to escape penalties if a disaster happens. How can we trust words from such people.

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 21:49 IST

sir, the people who are opposing the tamilnadu nuclear plant are very powerful people. it is clear from the fact that despite clear statement by th prime minister of the country and despite police cases against 4 ngo's opposing the nuclear plant, the media is taking interviews of those people and publishing them and airing them prominently. these people are not bothered about national interests, power shortage and millions of rupees invested in the nuclear plant. country needs modern chanakya to set right such persons. i sincerely hope that a day will come when people will fear to openly take stand and act against national interests on the name of environment, human rights etc..

from:  R. Pandya
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 20:50 IST

We accepted Mother Teresa from Italy for her missionary work. And why
not Hermann Rainer Sonntag. He is clearly NOT based on German

This is one such conspiracy theories - wherein people even argue that
Americans did not land on the moon and 911 is an American plot which is
not true.

from:  Vidya Lakshmi
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 20:19 IST

very, very sorry state of affairs,i do not know why people were mum when
HERMANN WAS DEPORTED on very minor reason,why the human right activities
also did not raise any objections

from:  l.s.mohandoss
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 12:48 IST

It is unfortunate to see the Indian government act in a high-handed authoritarian manner. India obviously has the authority to deport any foreigner, but the government should be bound by laws, not by power-hungry individuals.

Before deporting Sonntag, the government should have been required to provide evidence that Sonntag broke the law and explain why he needed to be deported.

from:  Ram Us
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 11:33 IST
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