An independent fact-finding team that investigated the September 10 police crackdown on agitators protesting against the fuel loading in the nuclear plant at Kudankulam has flayed the police for various excesses, including abusive behaviour toward womenfolk, slapping sedition charges on young children and driving a wedge between religious communities in a bid to weaken the movement.
Addressing a press conference, leaders of the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle, demanded the restoration of democracy and free expression in Idinthakarai, action against policemen responsible for the atrocities on those carrying out a peaceful agitation and negotiations by the government to resolve the over a year-long stir against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
B. G. Kolse Patil, former Judge of the Bombay High Court and chair of the fact-finding team, who joined the conference via video-conferencing, said an undeclared state of Emergency in which all Constitutional rights of the villagers were suspended prevailed in Idinthakari.
The police had unleashed a reign of terror and had randomly arrested protestors, including children against whom sedition charges had been slapped with the sole purpose of denying them bail, he said.
The team urged the Central and State governments, the Supreme Court, the National and State Human Rights Commissions and the public at large in Tamil Nadu and across the world, to rally against the subversion of human rights and the consigning of people as guinea pigs in a nuclear exercise.
The three-member fact-finding team, also comprising Mumbai-based writer Kalpana Sharma and Tamil writer Joe D’Cruz, had compiled the report after gathering evidence during a two-day visit last week to Kudankulam, Idinthakarai, Tsunami Colony and the Juvenile Home in Palayamkottai.
The report states that the findings “raise a matter of great gravity, given that they endorse widespread reports about violence against women, children and the elderly by police.”
The actions of the police also include acts of looting and damage to public and private property and open intimidation and IPC sections like 124A (sedition), 121A (waging war) had been “irrationally” used to charge those arrested on September 10.
“Most importantly, they represent acts of illegality that cannot be challenged by the victims as the perpetrators of the crimes are the police themselves.”
Mr. D’Cruz rubbished police claims that protestors sought to damage the nuclear plant and said that causing any kind of damage would be the last thing to do as the fear of nuclear threat was at the core of the agitation.
Activists also justified using women and children in the vanguard of the protests claiming that this was “an expression of peaceful agitation” and to deter men from resorting to violence even under police provocation.
Krishna Iyer's support
Meanwhile, jurist V. R. Krishna Iyer has expressed solidarity with the anti-Kudankulam protestors and condemned the police atrocities.
“I support the report being released….Our Republic cannot be Police Raj,” Mr. Krishna Iyer said in his e-mail to the leaders of the stir.
In another signed statement, Justices P.B. Sawant, A.P. Shah and Rajinder Sachar joined Justice Kolse Patil in appealing to the highest authorities to “take note of the very serious situation prevailing in Tamil Nadu, and take steps to restore normalcy to the region and the dignity to the affected people.”