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.