Kudankulam protests turn violent, Jaya reviews situation
Protestors have accused the police of unprovoked action while removing people from the beach adjoining the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu): Anti-nuclear protesters turned violent today after police foiled their repeated attempts to lay siege to the atomic power plant here by bursting teargas shells and resorting to lathicharge.
The over 2,000 protesters fought pitched battles throwing stones, logs and sand on the baton-wielding policemen who chased them with many of them even rushing towards the sea.
The police action followed after authorities failed to persuade the protesters who, for the second day, defied prohibitory orders and stayed put at the seashore, about 500 metres away from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
Police said local Panchayat office and the Village Administrative Officer's office were set on fire as today's incidents marked a violent turn to the over year-long protest which had remained peaceful.
The protest spilled into Tuticorin, about 80 km from here, where about 500 people blocked a train for some time by squatting on track. The protestors also blocked Tuticorin-Nagercoil highway.
Condeming the police action, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the protest against KNPP, announced a 48-hour relay fast against it.
In Chennai, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa reviewed the situation with DGP K Ramanujam.
The Chief Minister is also expected to meet with other senior officials of the state like the Chief Secretary.
One report also said a fisherman had died due to police firing which could perhaps lead to a further escalation in the conflict.
The protesters gave the call for the siege after regulatory authorites gave their nod for loading the uranium fuel in the first of the two reactors, the last step before its commissioning.
The call is seen as a last-ditch effort by the movement to stall the project as it recently received the go ahead from the Madras High Court which found no reason to interfere with the experts opinion on the safety of the project.
High drama unfolded at the seashore shortly after District Collector R Selvaraj accompanied by top police officials made yet another attempt to coax the protesters, including women, to leave the place.
Police said soon some protesters targeted them throwing stones and attacking with logs, causing minor injuries to four police personnel, including South Zone IGP Rajesh Doss, prompting them to make charge and fire teargas.
Thereafter it was a hide and seek between the police and the protesters who dispersed only to return at different spots.
Several went back to nearby Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protests against the Indo-Russian project.
The protesters alleged that the police had attacked them without any provocation, resulting in the clash.
A bandh-like situation prevailed here and surrounding villages with shops and schools remaining shut. The villagers also dug up main roads leading to Idinthakarai in a bid to prevent police vehicles from entering it.
Around 4,000 security personnel, including Rapid Action Force, have been deployed in the area in view of the call by the PMANE.
Condemning the police action, PMANE Convenor SP Udayakumar charged the state government with exposing its "fascist" face and vowed to continue the protest.
"We have been protesting in peaceful, Gandhian ways but the Tamil Nadu Government has shown its ugly side against unarmed men and women," he said.
The first unit of KNPP was scheduled for commissioning in December last, but ran into rough weather with the locals demanding its scrapping on safety concerns.
with inputs from PTI
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