They hand them over to the police; Collector, DIG hold talks to pacify them

Tension prevailed in and around Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) site for nearly eight hours after anti-KKNPP protesters detained 10 contract labourers when they were going inside the reactor site for work on Saturday morning.

The detained workers were released after three hours and the protesters gave up their protest following assurance from Collector R. Selvaraj that Revenue Inspectors posted at the entrance of the KKNPP site would monitor the entry of contract labourers into the site. The protesters' representatives could also monitor this, the Collector added.

Trouble started at 9 a.m. when anti-KKNPP struggle committee member Sivasubramanian, an advocate, president of Kudankulam village panchayat Sandal Muthuraj and a few others detained 10 contract labourers, all from West Bengal, as they were going to KKNPP site for work. Alleging that the contract labourers were being taken inside the KKNPP site for work in contravention of the resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Cabinet that demanded the halting of all activities in the nuclear reactors, the protesters took the detained workers to the Kudankulam police station and handed them over to the police.

Meanwhile, church bells were sounded at Idinthakarai, where the anti-KKNPP protest is going on for the 117th day, and also at Koottapuli that brought more people to the Kudankulam police station, triggering tension. The protesting public detained a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) vehicle with some personnel in plainclothes, alleging that the CISF truck was being used to transport the contract labourers into the KKNPP site to carry out construction activities.

With the situation going out of control, Additional Superintendent of Police, Valliyoor, Vijaykumar, and Revenue Divisional Officer, Cheranmahadevi, Raja Kirubhakaran, came to the spot and held talks with them at Kudankulam police station. They appealed to the protesters to release the vehicle and the CISF jawans as they were only doing their duty of safeguarding a Government of India installation.

However, the protesters rejected their appeal, saying that the CISF vehicles were being used to take the contract labourers inside and refused to release the CISF truck and staged a road roko, which prompted Superintendent of Police Vijayendra S. Bidari to rush to the spot with additional reinforcements from neighbouring Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts even as the protesters started preparing their lunch at the protest venue.

When the officials asked the agitating public to meet District Collector R. Selvaraj camping at Radhapuram taluk office, they asked the Collector to come to the protest venue. Later, the Collector, accompanied by Deputy Inspector-General of Police V. Varadharaju, came to the Kudankulam police station for talks. The protesters' representatives told the Collector and the officials that all contract labourers on the KKNPP premises now should be flushed out to ensure complete halting of the work and the canteen supplying food to them be closed down. Moreover, the protesters' representatives should be allowed to monitor the strength of the workforce deployed at KKNPP.

Agreeing to it, the Collector said the Revenue Inspector deployed at the KKNPP site entrance would monitor the workforce being allowed inside everyday. “All other issues would be discussed during the Central Expert Committee's visit to the Collectorate on December 15,” Mr. Varadharaju said.

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