For the past few years, people of Jaitapur and various civil society groups have been protesting against the proposed nuclear reactor plant in the village. Looking past all these protests, last month, the government said that they would put in ‘adequate safety measures’ and continue with the project.
A large group of activists and people from the village decided to march peacefully from Tarapur to Jaitapur to protest against the government’s decision. The yatra could not be completed as the authorities arrested a lot of the participants and stopped the others from moving ahead. Social activist Lalita Ramdas, was a part of that yatra. Here she revisits the yatra and narrates her experience.
I was at the Tarapur to Jaitapur march, protesting against the proposed nuclear plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. With me were several others, shouting slogans and singing songs to keep the world nuclear free. We were a peaceful lot, just walking to get our message through. But the peace seemed to have threatened the authorities.
However, we could not complete the march. A whole lot of us were arrested and were forced to retreat. The experience at the yatra got me thinking about the insecurity of our government machinery. Those in the Tarapur to Jaitapur yatra were only spreading the word about the dangers of going nuclear, asking for a moratorium on all nuclear plants and scrapping Jaitapur. It was surprising to see that a peaceful march was being dealt with so severely.
Once again many of our comrades were still detained in Mahad. Twelve of them were at the police station. We had only spent about an hour taking out a peaceful procession through a few streets from Ambedkar monument to Shivaji Chowk. However, we had to leave a little before the others, and were informed about the arrests later. A personal telephonic request from a retired former chief to the police, assuring them that the groups were heading peacefully back home, fell on deaf ears.
We were told at about 6.30pm (over a garbled, partially jammed phone line) that they were being held under Section 37 of the Maharashtra Act for disturbing the peace and violating Prohibitory orders which are apparently in operation - even in the adjoining district of Raigad . All this when we had not even stepped into Ratnagiri district! We were told that they will be formally arrested and then allowed to go after signing a personal bond in which they have to agree NOT TO DO THIS AGAIN!
But not before people sat, listened, spoke with us and asked for leaflets and asked questions. Like radiation; the word, the songs, the messages will spread. Many already had the no nukes stickers on their rickshaws and cars and shops!
"You can kill a man - but not a song - it goes the whole world round ........."
We are only making sure our democracy stays alive and kicking!
Image: © Apoorva Salkade / Greenpeace