I got up at 5.30 am in the morning, with the sound of my door bell ringing continuously. It was the hotel staff trying to make sure I don't miss the famous Kanyakumari sunrise. Half asleep, I told them that I had worked late in the night and I'd catch the sunrise some other day. In real, I was unable to sleep last night. I could not stop thinking about Sagayam's funeral, his family crying, children of the village receiving the dead body. It was tragic for the village and it had left a mark on me too.
It was an important day. From my previous visit, I knew that ex-Kerala CM Achutanandan was supposed to visit the village to show support for the anti-nuclear protestors. So I started for Koodankulam and like the day before none of the cab drivers were willing to take me there. Then I called the same autowala, who now calls me reporter sir, and finally reached Idinthikarai. While I was walking towards the church, I spotted a navy airplane surveying of the region.
I could already hear the speeches being made in anticipation of the ex-CM's visit. Then I found out that his convoy had been stopped at the Kerala border and he was not allowed to come to the village. There was some discussion about the enforcement of section 144 in the 7km radius of the plant which prevented the ex-CM from travelling to the village.
I managed to speak to Vimal who, luckily for me, understood some English and Hindi. He told me that the expired tear gas shells used by the police last week had harmed a lot of people. A lot of protesters have developed a rash on their faces after facing these tear gas shells. The sad part is they cannot go out or get any medical treatment.
I also asked him about what Uday Kumar told the press today. He said Uday Kumar said that the people protesting here are not terrorists. They are Indians and there in no reason for the authorties to treat them the way they have been treated so far. He also urged Jaylalitha to look into the matter and stop putting pressure on the people.
At this point Vimal became emotional and said there is no real support from anyone. He said that some political parties came here, gave speeches and left. Pointing at me he said, "People are coming from Delhi and other states to show solidarity but the State's own Chief Minister has turned a deaf ear to us."
He told me that 11 districts had gone without fishing last one week and all the shops are closed. I asked him how Shagayam died. He said that the airplane surveying the village came almost 10ft above him. That shocked him and he collapsed.
There was a lot of information for me to absorb and understand. So I spent my evening by the sea thinking about everything had learned in the past few days. I could see all boats parked aside, fishing nets tide on the respective boats, all laid to rest and fishermen sitting on the beach.
It was calm throughout the day. I hope the calm remains and the issue gets sorted peacefully.
Ali Abbas is covering the ground realities of the anti-nuclear protests in Koodankulam. All images have been taken by Ali Abbas.