Anti-Kudankulam stir intensifies

Anti-Kudankulam stir intensifies

Police foil bid to lay siege to Tamil Nadu Assembly in Chennai

Protests by backers of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) demanding closure of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu touched a new high on Monday, as police foiled a bid by the anti-nuke activists to “lay siege” to the State Legislative Assembly here.

Almost simultaneously, Chief Minister J Jayalalitha announced raising a ‘Special Auxiliary Youth Police Brigade’ (SAYPB) to help meet the emerging challenges to policing in the State.

Hundreds of anti-nuke activists and volunteers of various political parties, including MDMK, PMK, Dalit Panthers (VCK) and a fledgling Muslim outfit Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) who jumped into the fray to support PMANE’s agitation in the State capital, were arrested as they began a march from the Rajarathinam stadium here towards the Assembly, and led into police vans.

Prominent political party leaders, who led the anti-nuke activists, including MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P Nedumaran, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, MMK leader Jawaharullah, Velmurugan and A K Murthy (leaders of breakaway PMK group and PMK respectively) were arrested, even as Police cordoned off the entire protest area, which is six km away from the Assembly complex.

Fort St George itself was under a heavy three-tier security blanket since Sunday evening, with a massive mobilisation of police, including special and rapid action police contingents virtually sealing off a three-km perimeter around the Secretariat complex as the Assembly opened today for a brief monsoon session.

The protestors from 16 organisations, including NGOs, raising anti-KNPP slogans and condemning the recent police crackdown on peaceful fisher-folk agitating for nearly 14 months now at Idinthakarai near Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, were deftly handled by the police to ensure the tension did not spread.

Traffic in the city’s heart was thrown out of gear for over three hours due to the protest. In all, about 1,400 protestors were arrested in Chennai, police sources told Deccan Herald. However, the key PMANE members including SP Udayakumar, took part in a separate ‘Jal Sathyagraha’ in the sea at Idinthakarai , strategically keeping off from Chennai.