Russian president’s visit cannot be the reason to not protest

Press release - December 24, 2012
New Delhi, 24 December, 2012: Yesterday’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors was amplified when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that the protestors should maintain calm because of Russian President’s visit. [1]

The brutal force applied against peaceful, unarmed, protesters at Rajpath yesterday is being sought to be justified under the pretext of controlling "anti-social elements who had gained entry among the protesters." This argument falls flat as there was large scale manhandling and beating of women protesters by male police personnel.

According to Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India, "The people of India have a right to protest and that right cannot be taken away from them because of a foreign dignitary's visit. It is pretty clear that water cannon, tear gas as well as lathi charge was directed at those who were peacefully protesting. More than the anti-social elements, those on the receiving end were women protestors as well as media person."

Section 144 has continued to be applied today, many metro stations remain shut. All roads leading up to Rashtrapati Bhavan as well as India Gate have been blocked by rapid action force and traffic restricted whereas people continue to peacefully protest at Jantar Mantar.

"Undemocratic suppression of right to protest is on the rise across the country. Like many other parts of India, the people of Kudankulam too have been on a non-violent protest for more than a year. Instead of listening to the protestors, the government has and continues to use undue force without addressing their concerns," Mr. Aich added.

"Even as the Russian Envoy Alexander Kadakin called the protests against KNPP "gimmicks and games" the fact remains that a 63-year old J. Roslin, a mother of three from Idinthakarai died due to want of timely treatment and neglect. Her repeated request for treatment in Trichy prison hospital was unheeded. 63-year old Roslin was accused and jailed under many sections, including "waging war against the Government of India," added Mr. Aich.

Protest against proposed nuclear power projects across India have met with strong opposition. Farmers in Mithi Virdi, Gujarat are protesting against American nuclear reactors, fishermen and farmers of Jaitapur in Maharashtra are protesting against French nuclear reactors and the people of Kudankulam are protesting against the Russian nuclear reactors.

According to Karuna Raina, Nuclear Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace, "If the government is serious about the concerns raised by the citizens of India, then it needs to be willing to engage with them. The call on national debate on nuclear power from PMANE is justified and gives an opportunity to the Government to reciprocate peacefully." [2]

END----------------

Notes to the Editor:

1- http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/delhi-gangrape-pm-says-public-anger-against-gangrape-genuine-appeals-for-peace/1/239178.html

2- http://www.firstpost.com/india/pmane-calls-for-debate-on-indias-ambitious-nuclear-programme-554876.html

For more information:

Hozefa Merchant, Media Officer, , 09819592410,

Karuna Raina, Nuclear Energy Campaigner, karuna.ra, 9650111955

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