15 protesters and 10 policemen injured; Udaykumar and others moved to safer place
Tension prevailed in all coastal hamlets in the district on Monday following police action to disperse those who were planning to lay siege to the nuclear reactors here. All shops in the villages on the East Coast Road remained closed and vehicular traffic on this thoroughfare was completely stopped.
Police fired teargas shells and lathi-charged protesters on the Idinthakarai beach. Over 15 protesters and around ten policemen, including Inspector General of Police, South Zone, Rajesh Das, and Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, V. Varadharaju, sustained injuries.
Police forces have been deployed in vulnerable areas and patrolling in the coastal villages has been intensified to prevent untoward incidents. Many were arrested, though the exact number was not immediately available.
The anti-KKNPP protesters moved their base from St. Lourdes Church to the beach around noon on Sunday. They moved 200 metres further around 11 a.m. on Monday. Even as the police were trying to stop them, the protesters in ten fibreglass boats were going towards the KKNPP shore. The police detained two activists leading the march. However, they were released immediately after the protesters detained two policemen.
After the attempts by Collector R. Selvaraj and Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli, Vijayendra Bidari, to pacify the advancing protesters failed, Mr. Das made a vain attempt to prevail over them. A few protesters dragged Mr. Das even as others started throwing footwear. Sub-Inspector Arumugam sustained a bleeding injury on the head when a stone was thrown at him. Mr. Varadharaju suffered injuries on the legs as a log was hurled at him.
Then the police started firing teargas shells to disperse the protesters, who ran for cover, while their leaders S.P. Udayakumar, M. Pushparayan and Rev. Fr. M.P. Jesuraj were reportedly taken in three boats to a safer place. Chased away by the cane-wielding police, the protesters returned to Idinthakarai, where they conducted a meeting and decided to go on a 48-hour fast.
Unidentified miscreants set ablaze an Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) shop near Uvari, a hamlet about 20 km from Idinthakarai, shortly after the police operation to disperse the protesters. The shed erected in front of the IMFL outlet at Kudankulam was also set on fire by miscreants who created obstacles on the road after ransacking the liquor shop.
Crowds threw stones at vehicles, placed granite boulders and tree logs and broke flag masts across the road at Kudankulam–Radhapuram intersection and also on the Kudankulam bypass road leading to the Vairaavikinaru intersection. They chased away police vans carrying lunch to police personnel deployed at Thomas Mandapam.
After visiting Idinthakarai, the police team led by the SP forcibly cleared these routes amidst stone pelting by the mob. When the attack intensified, the police fired a few rounds of teargas shells. Mr. Bidari and his team rushed to Koottapuli where miscreants attacked a police vehicle and smashed the windscreen around 5.15 p.m.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S. George has camped here since Friday night to monitor the situation. The protesters, who stopped journalists’ vehicles at several places, allowed them to go only after checking their identity.
When a police vehicle was returning to Kudankulam from Idinthakarai, an armed gang attacked the police and the vehicle at Vairaavikinaru. Even before the police inside the vehicle could retaliate, the Collector and senior police officers, who came to the spot along with their striking forces, swung into action to arrest seven persons. Meanwhile, the police have brought a 2-seater all-terrain vehicle to intensify patrolling on the beach.