ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Silent Emergency in Koodankulam

For the villagers around the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu who are agitating against its commissioning, it is as if they are facing a second Emergency, albeit a silent one. False cases have been slapped against them, their leaders have been charged with sedition and waging war against the government, prohibitory orders have been issued within a seven-km radius of the plant and the government continues to spread stories that the struggle is being funded by foreign sources.

On 26 June, S P Udayakumar and M Pushparayan activists protesting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) completed 100 days of their “self-exile” in the small coastal village of Idinthakarai in the Tirunelveli district of southern Tamil Nadu even as the 37th anniversary of the Emergency passed by. They stay in the “quarter-km-radius prison” as Udaya­kumar, coordinator of the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) calls it. Thousands of people keep vigil around the house through the nights should the police come to ­arrest the duo.

It is as if the eerie silence of the dark days after 26 June 1975 still resounds in every corner as a “Silent Emergency” is being surreptitiously declared with the accompanying human rights vio­lations. Prohibitory orders have been ­imposed from 19 March within a five-km radius of the KNPP. These orders were later ­extended to seven km and until August with a posse of armed policemen guar­ding the town and restricting the ­people’s movements.

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