Kudankulam: Updates

Feature story - March 23, 2012
The latest on what we know of the situation in Kudankulam and Idinthakarai over the protests against the Nuclear Power Plant.

March 25, 2012

Dear Friends:

Greetings! Pushparayan, the other 12 friends and I have become weaker and  tired; but we are still able to sit up and talk to people. Today is the seventh day of the indefinite hunger strike. Nobody from the State Government or the Central Government has bothered to come and see us or talk to us. A medical team came to check our health day before yesterday (March 23) but no public health officials came and offered any help even though some 10,000 people have been congregating here at Idinthakarai every day since March 19th. Our friends from Idinthakarai have been cooking some simple meals for all these people and most of the people are sleeping here as there is the prohibitory order of 144 still in effect. They are scared of going out of this foot-ball stadium sized space in front of the St. Lourdes church. The police are waiting for me and Pushparayan to collapse so that we would go to an hospital for treatment and they could arrest us there. How cruel and anti-people our governments could become!  

In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu government has convened a meeting of some 13 Panchayat (local body) leaders to plan to distribute the 500-crore package the government has announced for the victims of nuclear development. The state police continues its crack down; they tried to arrest three men at Koodankulam and they ll managed to give a slip. The police go to some of the coastal villages and order them to go fishing in order to create a pictue of normalcy in the area. They also ask them not to carry any food by boat to Idinthakarai and threaten them with cases if they did. People defy this kind of intimidatory exercises.  

This is a struggle (but ‘war’ in the eyes of our opponents) between rich, famous, powerful, upper-class and upper-caste pro-mega-development folks and poor, unknown, powerless, lower-class and lower-caste pro-sustainable development  masses. The governments here work for the profit of Russia and not for the people of India. The governments engaged in massive power cuts over the past few months  in order to create a huge hatred against us and opposition to our struggle. Now that they have resumed work at the Koodankulam plant, the officials say they do not know how long it will take for electricity generation. Now people of Tamil Nadu know that Koodankulam is not the answer for our power crisis. The people of Tamil Nadu and India will wake up to many such realities soon with regards to Pechipparai dam water, reprocessing plant at Koodankulam, weapons facilities, atomic bombs etc.  

India is a highly- and densely-populated country and even a small mishap at a nuclear facility will create such a havoc and meyham for millions of people and jeopardize the survival and wellbeing of millions and millions of our brothers and sisters.  We are not against the progress of our country and state but we feel that such a progress should be longstanding and sustainable for our future generations also. We have no moral authority to poison the resources of our future generations in order to produce electricity for us for 40 years. We say that let India be a world leader with creative and original ideas an d programs rather than the slave of Russia, United States and France.  

The governments here are taking up a new weapon  now and that is our alleged links with Naxalites (Maoists). They are fabricating evidences and concocting conversations to establish that we have connections with Naxal youth and trying to portray us as a violent group. The whole world knows that we have been struggling for the past eight months in a nonviolent manner with absolutely no violence or terror. They will fail as they have in the “foreign hand” and “foreign money” accusations.  The governments are desperately trying to provoke our people to prove their theory that “ordinary citizens” of our country do not have a mind of their own; they cannot think for themselves; they cannot stand up for their rights and entitlements in a nonviolent noncooperation cmapaign; and most importantly, these fishermen, Nadars, Dalits, Muslims, women and children are all dispensable for the growth of the Chennai-based and Delhi-based multi-billionaires.  Well, that is the logic of globalization and that is what we vehemently oppose.  

People power or nuclear power? Moral power or money power? Citizens’ power or State power? Which side you are on? The people of Tamil Nadu, and the people of India, please think of this!  

People here and I may die in this hunger strike or in a few years out of old age. But please think of the world, country, state you want to have for yourself and your progeny. That is what human politics is all about. I would leave the golden  lines of Martin Niemoller, a German pastor and theologian for you to reflect on:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.  

S. P. Udayakumar

Idinthakarai


Idinthakarai Update

March 22, 2012

The situation here is still grim. There are some 10,000 people from coastal and interior villages. Most of them are women including pregnant women and nursing women. I myself saw many nursing women feeding their babies sweetened water as there was no milk coming to the village. More people are coming by boats and on foot as the access roads are all blocked by police. There is no bus service to this place. There is no sanitary complex and women bear the brunt of it. No public health official has ever come to help the people.

Some 15 of us have been on indefinite hunger strike and no medical doctor has ever come here to check our health. The Dinamalam newspaper has reported today that we have all been eating heartily and pretending to be fasting. If this anti-Tamil newspaper can prove that there is a trace of food in my or Pushparayan’s stomach, we are ready to leave this protest. Otherwise, will they stop publishing this stupid paper? We are fighting for a cause not prostituting our soul like the Dinamalam does.

On March 21, my mother had received a phone call from one advocate by the name T. Udayakumar and he claimed he was calling from the DGP office in Chennai. He asked my mother to ask me to leave the protest so that all the cases against me would be dropped and I would get whatever I ask for. My mother told him that I was not a man of that nature and ended the conversation. That evening the Superintendent of Police of Tirunelveli District called me on my mobile and asked me to surrender alone so that people would not be affected. I told him that I was all ready for that but the people here at Idinthakarai also wanted to get arrested along with me and they would not let me go alone. I proposed to the SP to send enough number of buses and two police officers so that there would not be any stampede or tussle and we all would board the buses peacefully and go wherever they wanted us to go. He would not accept that proposition and said in anger: “This is the last time I talk to you.” There ended our conversation. 

That night the police officer who was on security duty at our SACCER Matriculation School outside Nagercoil town had received a phone call from the Kanyakumari District SP office to go away from the school. Then a group of vandals, obviously with the blessings of the police,had entered the school and destroyed it very badly. The compound wall was completely demolished and the gate damaged. They ransacked the school bus after tearing down the car shed’s iron shutters. They had entered the KG classrooms and destroyed all the small little chairs which my children were using to sit on. They had broken all the tables and chairs and I do not understand why they punished my little children like this. The vandals had entered our school library and destroyed all the 12 glass bookshelves and tables and threw away the books. My 250 children are all avid readers and have been using our library extensively. This reminds me of the burning of the Public Library at Jaffna a few years ago.

The governments and the police treat and speak of me as if I were Osama bin Laden and our people some mindless terrorists. We resent this inhuman and brutal treatment. Electricity, water, milk and other essentials have been cut for two days; people cannot go out of and come into Idinthakarai as there is brutal police control. We are surrounded by police and I truly feel like I am at Mullivaickal. We are a group of simple people who have been fighting nonviolently and democratically against an untested foreign reactor with all kinds of problems and  hiccups. We have not done any harm to anybody or anybody’s property in our eight-month long struggle. The whole country is proud of our people.

The stalemate continues. There are protests happening all over the country and the state of Tamil Nadu. Whoever is farsighted enough to worry about the future of India’s “ordinary citizens,” our natural resources, the well-being of our progeny, the possibility of losing our freedom to the New Nuclear East India Companies and most importantly, the democratic fabric of our country support us. We thank them and you for standing with us. We are ready for any brutal police action but will not give up our nonviolent noncooperation campaign.


Kudankulam Update

March 20, 2012

7:30 AM

Police have arrested 18 men more at Koodankulam last night but nothing happened here at Idinthakarai at night. Some 5,000 women, men and children slept around St. Lourdes Church. Some 185 men and women and their Parish Priest Fr. Suseelan were arrested at Koottapuli village when they sat down by the side of the road protesting against the police peacefully. They are being held at Tirunelveli armed reserve camp. The other group of 9 people including our Struggle Committee members Adv. Sivasubramanian and Rajalingom, arrested yesterday and now charged with sedition including Sections 121, 121A and 153A, has been taken to Tirunelveli also and we do not know where they are being held. In the meantime, Muhilan, another leading activist of PMANE was arrested on his way to Idinthakarai and he is kept at the police headquarters in Tirunelveli.

Police have clamped down Section 144 in our area prohibiting people from congregating in any manner. So no one can walk or move around. Despite this curfew, people keep coming to Idinthakarai by boats and on foot. There is an unprecedented deployment of police around Koodankulam and it is highly condemnable that the police are harassing the peaceful protesters to this extent. Some 15 of us (8 men and 7 women) including Pushparayan and myself are on indefinite hunger strike here at Idinthakarai demanding:

[1] the immediate release of our comrades,

[2] the withdrawal of the Tamil Nadu cabinet resolution,

[3] a thorough and complete probe of geologists, hydrologists and oceanographers into the safety issues of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant,

[4] release of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed secretly by the governments of India and Russia on liability in February 2008, and

[5] conduct safety drills and evacuation drills in the 30-km radius of the Koodankulam project.

There could be public health problems and food shortage in a few days here at Idinthakarai.  We appeal to the people of Tamil Nadu to be aware of this assault on the Tamil community. We appeal to the people of India to be mindful of impending nuclear nightmares in our highly and densely populated country such as ours. We appeal to the people of the world to keep a watchful eye on the forceful implementation of a mega-nuclear project on our people without giving us any basic information about the project or conducting any public hearing. They are preparing to load uranium fuel rods into the reactor without conducting any safety or evacuation drills. This kind of Fascist development is taking our country to another round of New East India Companies and Neo-colonialism. God Save India!

Please do everything you possibly can to condemn this police harassment and nuclear madness and to express your solidarity.
Struggle Committee People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy


The Anti-Koodankulam Struggle and the Money Issue
S. P. Udayakumar, Ph.D.Coordinator, Struggle Committee People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)

March 7, 2012

[1] The Central Government of India does not want to acknowledge the simple fact that even “ordinary citizens” of India have a mind of their own, can take a stand on policy issues and “development” projects that affect their lives and stand up for their rights to life and livelihood.

Instead, the Honorable Prime Minister and some of the ministers in the Government of India have been accusing us of receiving money from someNGOs in the United States and Scandinavian countries, and collaborating with foreigners and so forth. The GoI even detained a foreign tourist from Germany at Nagercoil recently and deported him without proving anything. He has been talking to the Indian Press saying that he has had nothing to do with funding any anti-nuclear activities in India. A few local NGOs in Tamil Nadu belonging to Christian institutions and Christian individuals have been blacklisted, scrutinized and harassed recently. All of them have rightly denied that they have had nothing to do with our struggle.

It is pertinent to note that this Government has opened up not just our economy but the whole country to all the foreigners, their MNCs and FDI etc. They even tried recently to hand over all the retail businesses to foreigners at the cost of millions of Indian families. When the whole country opposed the move valiantly, they have just put it on hold. And THEY are accusing us of having foreign collaborationand foreign money connections.

[2] The Russian and American diplomats are all interfering in our internal affairs now freely and expressing opinions, especially about foreign funding. This presages the New East India Companies meddling in our affairs from now on and even dictating terms to us, Indians.

The Honorable Russian Ambassador should explain to Indians why his country and his country’s companies do not want to give any liability whatsoever for the Koodankulam reactors. If they are the best and the most perfect in the whole wide world, why can’t Russia offer the maximum and unlimited liability for the Koodankulam reactors? Why do they hide behind the secret IGA (Inter-Governmental Agreement) they signed with the Government of India in 2008?

If the United States is so earnest in all its business dealings, why do they keep pressurizing the Indian politicians and bureaucrats to water down the Indian liability act? What moral legitimacy do Russian and American authorities have to talk about anybody’s financial dealings in the world?

[3] As the Coordinator of this genuine, spontaneous and truthful struggle of the “ordinary citizens” of India, I would like to clarifythat we have not received any money from any Indian or international NGO or business house, or political party.

Our activities are funded exclusively by the voluntary contributions of our fishermen, formers, shopkeepers, workers and beedi-rolling women. People who come to our protests/activities arrange their own transportations. We, the organizers of the relay hunger strike, offer nothing more than safe drinking water. The Koodankulam people have offered rice porridge or a simple vegetarian meal on a couple of occasions (when we laid a siege) from their own contributions. We do not offer any daily wages, or food, or alcohol or pocket money to the participants as some Indian political parties often do in their party events.

Obviously, these money-minded politicians cannot fathom the spontaneous, powerful and revolutionary uprising of the “ordinary citizens” of India who have had enough of these corrupt self-seeking immoral drunkards and womanizers. Our struggle and our people speak a totally different language of truth and justice which these power-hungry unruly elements cannot and will not understand.

[4] As the Coordinator of the ongoing struggle, I would like to establish the fact that I have not solicited or received or handled any money from anybody for this struggle. To prove this point, I am giving below my and my family’s income details, properties, bank accounts and loans.

[A] INCOME

My wife and I depend on agricultural income from our lands, and occasional speaking and teaching fees, researching and writing fees. We both have PAN numbers, audit our personal accounts annually, and pay income taxes.

[B] PROPERTIES

InheritedFrom Father: 5 cents land and house   Nagercoil Village, Kanyakumari DistrictFrom Mother: 7.5 cents land and house   Nagercoil Village, Kanyakumari District;14 cents land paddy field   Thiruppathisaram Village, Kanyakumari District
Purchased (Date of Purchase, area, location)

26.03.1994   10 cents land  Nagercoil Village, Kanyakumari District21.12.1994 to 30.03.2000   376.829 acres   Neendakarai Village,Kanyakumari District(10 pieces)
01.07.1998 to 23.03.1999   8.435 acres   Azhagiapandiapuram Village,Kanyakumari District(4 pieces)
9.9.2005   7.5 cents land and house   Nagercoil Village, Kanyakumari District
02.05. 2008   91 cents   Azhagiapandiapuram Village, Kanyakumari District(2 pieces)


[C] BANK ACCOUNTS

(Bank Name, Branch, A/C NO., Balance as recorded the last time)
My a/cSBI, Nagercoil HO, a/c 10843375998, 4953.84TMB, Edalakudy, a/c 92100050084848, 1703.05
Wife's (Meera Udayakumar) a/cSBI, Nagercoil HO, a/c 10843378900, 1380.72TMB, Edalakudy, a/c 92100050303549, 309.00Canara Bank, Kottar, a/c 1111101027576, 2331.00
SACCER Trust a/cSBI, Kottar, a/c 10663109330, 5716.07
SACCER Matriculation School a/cIndian Bank, Meenakshipuram, a/c 460443812, 12632.00

[The SACCER Trust runs the SACCER Matriculation School; does not have an FCRA registration; accepts legal donations from local individuals and institutions; audits the accounts annually. The school owns two vans.]

Father's (S. Paramarthalingom) a/c: TMB, Edalakudy, a/c 92100050018652, 714.19
Mother's (S. Ponmony) a/c: SBI, Nagercoil HO, a/c 10843329464, 35566.26

[D] JEWEL LOANS 

(Bank, Name of the person, Loan amount, Due Date)
TMB, S.P. Udayakumar, Rs. 1,06,000, Due Date 30.3.12Canara Bank, Meera Udayakumar, Rs. 98,000, Due Date 15.4.12TMB, Meera Udayakumar, Rs. 1,05,000, Due Date 23.4.12TMB, Meera Udayakumar, Rs. 1,20,000, Due Date 6.5.12TMB, S. P. Udayakumar, Rs. 98,000, Due Date 8.6.12TMB, S. Paramarthalingom, Rs. 70,000, Due Date 25.10.12
Loan Against DepositsIndian Bank, Meenakshipuram, Rs. 50,000, Due Date 22.12.2015(Deposit Amount Rs.1,20,000)
[TMB: Tamilnad Mercantile Bank; SBI: State Bank of India]

A team of 20 individuals from Idinthakarai village handles thedonations we receive for the struggle and they keep accounts of whatthey receive and spend. They have recently issued the accounts to thepress.