18 April, 2012. CHENNAI – A fact-finding team headed by senior journalist Sam Rajappa confirmed that the Government had indeed restricted movement of essential goods and people in the days following the Chief Minister’s March 19th declaration announcing her support to the nuclear plant.
The report, which was released at a press conference in Chennai, noted that the spirit of opposition to the nuclear power plant was very high, and warned that arresting the leaders could lead to a serious law and order problem in the region.
The report, which was based on a two-day visit to Idinthakarai on March 30 and 31, Nagercoil and other villages in Radhapuram taluk, observes that the police had filed “false cases under every conceivable section in law.”
Just between Sept 10, 2011 and Dec 23, 2011, the police had filed 107 FIRs against 55795 people. Of this, 6800 people have been charged with “sedition” and/or “waging war against the State,” perhaps the largest ever number in British or independent India for one police station. The report’s authors said the recent FIR alleging “attempt to murder” by S.P. Udayakumar, V. Pushparayan and other leaders was fabricated and designed to malign the peaceful movement and its leaders.
“This is a parody of law. The frequency and manner in which the Police has filed cases against peaceful protestors clearly exposes that the police’s intent never was to uphold the rule of law, but to crush any dissenting voices,” said Mr. Rajappa. “The Tamil Nadu CM belongs right up there with Mamata Banerjee for her vengeful use of the Indian Penal Code to suppress any contrary voices,” he said.
Rubbishing claims about mischievous outside instigators and innocent villagers, the report’s authors found that the protest was “a genuine people’s movement.” “Throughout our two-day visit, we could not find any trace of the agitation being instigated by Mr.Udayakumar or any other leader. It is a genuine people’s movement,” the team said. The report also documents a contribution of Rs. 1,25,000 by “a group of fishermen from Chinna Muttom in Kanyakumar district to express solidarity with the Koodankulam agitators. . .and to keep the agitation going.”
Loyola College lecturer Dr. Gladston Xavier, who was also part of the fact finding team, said “The Government should learn from incidents like the Arab Spring that the more the suppression of free speech, the greater the strength and explosive force with which it will eventually emerge.”
The report’s authors appealed to the State Government to revoke the cases filed against protestors, and engage in a genuine and democratic dialogue with them on the substantive issues concerning nuclear safety.
FACT FINDING TEAM
The fact finding team comprised of the following members who visited the areas around Koodankulam nuclear plant on 30th and 31st March 2012, to study the impacts caused by curfew imposed.
Mr. Sam Rajappa, Senior Journalist & Director, Statesman School of Print Journalism, Kolkata
Dr. Gladston Xavier, Senior Lecturer, Loyola College
Mr. Mahadevan, President, PUCL-Kanyakumari District
Ms. Porkodi, Advocate, High court – Madurai bench
Mr. Rajan, PUCL Kanyakumari