After two days of protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power project, the situation in Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu was calm yesterday even as protests spread to other parts of the state. Members of different political parties staged demonstrations and courted arrest yesterday, a police official said.
In Chennai, police arrested Lok Sabha member and founder of VCK party Thol Thirumavalavan and members of the MDMK after they held a demonstration against the nuclear power project. The protests were held to condemn the baton charging of anti-KNPP agitators in Kudankulam Monday and the killing of a fishermen in Tuticorin district in police firing.
According to police, around 1,050 people, including around 750 MDMK activists, have been arrested after they staged demonstrations. Police said protests were held at Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts.
The situation was calm in Kudankulam and the police had left the village. Schools and shops had opened and there was normalcy in the area, said Tirunelveli District Collector R Selvaraj. Around 20 people were on fast for 48 hours at Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli, around 650 km from here, against the Kudankulam nuclear power project.
“We are worried about the whereabouts of PMANE (People Movement Against Nuclear Energy) leaders SP Udayakumar and M Pushparayan,” Selvaraj said. The protests, spearheaded by PMANE, and earlier confined to Kudankulam and Idinthakarai villages in Tirunelveli, spread to Tuticorin following the baton charge on the protesting fishermen on the beach at Kudankulam around 11.30 am on Monday.
Protesting against the baton charge, an around 400-strong crowd attacked a police check post in Manapaddu village in Tuticorin village. A policeman shot a protestor dead in defensive firing, after his other three colleagues, including a woman constable, were injured.
The violence comes as plant officials announced that enriched uranium fuel would be loaded in the first of the two nuclear reactors around Sep 11. For the first time since the protests began, a large police contingent entered Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district, which has served as the hub of the protest.
Cop action justified
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa justified the police action. “The protestors attempted to move closer to the Kudankulam atomic power plant and attacked police with logs, injuring some policemen. In self-defence and also to protect the public if they attack the nuclear power plant, police fired tear gas shells,” Jayalalithaa had said.
She had also appealed to the protestors to extend their cooperation for the early commissioning of the reactor, calling it safe. The chief minister announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the protestor killed in Tuticorin.