For the first time in the past seven-and-a-half months, the police acted against the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project protestors on Monday when the law-enforcers arrested nine anti-KKNPP protestors, including the two members of the anti-KKNPP struggle committee.
All the nine, including anti-KKNPP struggle committee members S. Sivasubramanian and K. Rajalingam, all from Kudankulam, were arrested at 12.45 p.m. when they were standing opposite Kamaraj Statue near the main entrance of the upcoming nuclear power project. Though Kudankulam parish priest Rev. Fr. Thatheus Rajan was also present at that time along with the protestors, he was allowed to go.
The protestors, who were detained based on the cases already filed against them ever since the anti-KKNPP struggle intensified in mid-August, were taken to an undisclosed destination for interrogation.
Speaking to The Hindu over the phone from Idinthakarai, anti-KKNPP struggle committee convener S.P. Udayakumar said Tirunelveli Collector R. Selvaraj had contacted him on Sunday evening shortly after the Sankarankoil by-poll was over and asked him and Rev. Fr. Jayakumar, parish priest of Idinthakarai, to come for talks at Tirunelveli for some clarifications on the doubts raised by the protestors over the hydrological, oceanographic and geological implications on the KKNPP.
"When I raised my suspicion over the intentions behind asking only two of us for the talks and that too immediately after the end of the Sankarankoil by-poll, the Collector allowed three more – M. Pushparayan, S. Sivasubramanain and Rev. Fr. M.P. Jesuraj – to participate in the talks and I turned down the suggestion since I had the apprehension that we could be arrested. Again we declined the offer for talks at Radhapuram travellers' bungalow, fearing arrest. Strengthening our fears, over 4,000 police personnel have been deployed in this region," Dr. Udayakumar said.
Even as deployment of police personnel at Chettikulam, SS Puram intersection, Kudankulam and the intersections at Vairaavikinaru, Thomas Mandapam and Kooththenkuzhi, all on the Kanyakumari – Tiruchendur Highway, and also near the main gate of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project were going on, the police smoothly executed the arrest of anti-KKNPP protestors, triggering tension at Idinthakarai, situated just four Km away from this spot, and other coastal villages.
Following the police action, St. Lourdes Church bell was sounded at Idinthakarai to alert the residents and to ask them to converge in front of the church. Speaking to the protestors, Dr. Udayakumar said that the Tamil Nadu Government, following the footprints of the Union Government, had started acting unilaterally without understanding the sentiments of the public on KKNPP. "Protesting the police action and the immediate and unconditional release of the detained protestors, we start indefinite fast immediately," he announced.
Against this backdrop, news of Tamil Nadu Government's Cabinet resolution favouring the commissioning of KKNPP reached Idinthakarai, triggering ripples among the protestors.
"We had complete faith in the Tamil Nadu Government… But, succumbing to pressure from the Union Government, the State Government has passed a resolution in favour of commissioning of the nuclear power programme and started acting against the (anti-KKNPP) protestors," Dr. Udayakumar said.