Kudankulam: Villagers on protest mode

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 09:16 hrs

Kudankulum: Villagers led by social activists remained on protest mode with hunger strikes in Tamil Nadu's Kudankulum on Tuesday, a day after clashes near the nuclear plant against which they are agitating and killing of one person in police firing in Tuticorin.

Thousands of protesters started a two-day hunger strike since last night at Idinthakari demanding shutting down of the plant.

Officials said about 4,000 cops, including Rapid Action Force, remained deployed in the area where tension continued.

Villagers also alleged desecration of a church by the cops though the latter denied it.

The protest against India's largest nuclear power project at Kudankulam reached a flash point on Monday as the police and protesters clashed near the plant daylong while one person died in police firing in Tuticorin.

While both sides- protestors and police- blamed each other for Monday's violence, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has urged for peace and said the plant as well as nuclear energy is safe.

While the ground zero of protest was Kudankulam, one protestor died when police opened fire in neighbouringTuticorin district to bring the demonstrating fishermen under control on Monday.

Protesters had gathered near the Kudankulam nuclear plant to demonstrate against the loading of enriched uranium fuel in the plant.

Police on Monday fired tear gas shells to disperse protesters in order to control the massive agitation in Kudankulam as the agitationists found their way to the plant and later jumped into the sea to escape police action.

A senior police official from Kudankulam told IBNS that People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) leader Uday Kumar resorted to rioting and used women and children as shields.

He said the protestors were armed with sticks.

He said two cops, including a constable, were held confined by the protesters wrongfully.

The protesters jumped on the sea near the plant Monday when the police started cracking down. As shells were fired, they took refuge in the sea to escape the police.

The protesters also threw rocks at the police.

Speaking on Kudankulam protests, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said: "Some NGOs are very much interested in this ( Kudankulam protests ). I do not want to name the countries."

He said nuclear energy is 'clean energy'.

PMANE on the other hand said they were being harassed and intimidated.

Police is inciting violence against unarmed civilians and nonviolent fighters including thousands of children and women, PMANE said.

A day ago they villagers and activists had began fresh protest against the plant in violation of prohibitory orders.

A group of locals and fishermen, led by activist organisations like PMANE, raised a protest movement against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project coming up in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

While India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said these protests are funded by foreign entities, the local groups denied the charge.

Villagers had first started the protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) last year, resorting to hunger strikes and later continued with the agitation in various forms against the nuclear plant.

Even though India's Department of Atomic Energy had cleared the Rs 13,000-crore project, locals and environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, have raised concerns over the project's use of purportedly risky Russian technology.

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