TNN | Apr 1, 2014, 05.45 AM IST



English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NNAI: Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to drop 248 out of the 349 cases booked against anti-nuclear protesters in an apparent attempt to woo the fishing community in coastal villages of three southern districts. But the partial withdrawal of cases is unlikely to win votes for the ruling AIADMK in the elections, with protesters saying they will step up their agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court last week, Tirunelveli district collector M Karunagaran said the remaining 101 cases cannot be withdrawn because they relate to serious crimes like laying siege through sea and violence against private individuals and government servants.

The climbdown on the part of the government, though to comply with an SC directive to withdraw all cases, is seen as an attempt to placate the fishing community, which is at the forefront of the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Most of them have, however, sworn loyalty to AAP, which has fielded prominent anti-nuclear activists in three coastal constituencies in the south.

All sedition charges against the protesters will stay. The three AAP candidates, S P Udayakumar, M Pushparayan and M P Jesuraj, contesting from Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli Lok Sabha constituencies respectively, have more than a dozen sedition cases against each of them, said G Sundarrajan of Friends of Earth, a forum which filed the petition on behalf of the protesters in the SC. He said in all, 8,950 people were charged with sedition and 13,500 were charged with waging war against the nation. Police had booked 2.27 lakh people in 349 cases, of which only 5,000 were named. In comparison, during the entire 150 years of freedom struggle across the Madras province, only 2,300 people were booked for sedition, said Sundarrajan.

Udayakumar, convener of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), flayed the government for the partial withdrawal of cases. “All the cases filed against our people pertain to the struggle against the nuclear plant. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who also holds the home portfolio, should clarify the grounds on which some cases are being dropped and the rest retained,” he said. Calling the move mischievous and aimed at cheating people, he said, “When the SC had asked the government to withdraw all cases against the protesters, how could it refuse to do it? We will step up our agitation with renewed vigour”.

There are six cases of laying siege through sea, 40 cases of attack on private people and 55 cases relating to violence against government servants, the affidavit said. If they are withdrawn, there won’t be any fear of law and government servants won’t have trust in government, the affidavit said. Karunagaran said despite strict vigil and vehicle checkup, on November 26 last year, country bombs kept in Idinthakarai, a hamlet abutting the Kudankulam nuclear plant, exploded killing five people and injuring three people.

The SC, while disposing of a special leave petition filed by Sundarrajan on May 6 last year, had given 15 directions, which included making an endeavour to drop all cases against the protesters. Of the 15 directions, five pertained to the state government. The collector said all of them had been complied with. They include taking steps to implement national disaster management guidelines, preparing a radiological emergency plan, discharging corporate social responsibility of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and setting up a district-level implementation committee for discharging corporate social responsibility.


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