Kudankulam N-plant: TN police register case against Tuticorin Bishop, priests

Published 18 November 2011  |  
In a move to quell protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant, the Tamil Nadu police on Wednesday registered an FIR against the Bishop of the Tuticorin Diocese and several activists of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMAE).

According to reports, the police registered dozens of cases against the Tuticorin Bishop Yvon Ambroise, several priests of his diocese, MDMK chief Vaiko and social activist Medha Patkar.

Police said the Christian priests were using places of worship for organising protests, which was against the law.

It is reported that some 76 cases of various offences, including unlawful assembly, use of place of worship for propagating against the government, instigating protests and public nuisance, were registered against the anti-nuke protesters.

The FIR, according to the Press Trust of India, has also booked the PMAE convener Udhayakumar and M Pushparayan, a member of the six-member committee set up by the state government on the issue.

The Tamil Nadu police on Wednesday alleged that the premises of St Lourdes Church in Idinthakarari were being used as a protest venue and priests of the Catholic Church and Church of South India (CSI) were openly supporting the agitation.

They expressed apprehensions over the protest spreading to other areas including Valliyoor.

A Catholic priest, Fr Xavier John, who was part of the anti-nuke protest, conveyed sorrow at attempts to contain the protests held in a democratic manner.

"We have not instigated violence or hate against the government. All that the Church did was create awareness about the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP). The environmental and health effects of such a project must be strongly considered before commissioning the two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors built on Russian technology," he said.

"There is this fear for life and safety in the minds of people like rightly pointed by the media and activists involved in the fight. Without winning people's trust it is difficult to take this project further. The government's interests must be for the people. "

Adding to it, Samuel Jayakumar of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) said the Church in strongest terms denounced the move against the Bishop, priests and activists in Kudankulam.

"The government is trying to shift the people's attention from the real issue. The Church has the moral right to support what is just and stand against whatever evil. Our prayer is that the government address the fear of people before taking any step," said Jayakumar, whose organisation represents the Protestant and Orthodox churches.

The Centre had recently constituted a 15-member committee to allay the fears over the project and discuss the future course of action.

The first and the second round of talk apparently ended with no indication on how the issue will be dealt with peacefully.

The Rs. 13,700-crore Kudankulam nuclear power plant project is a joint venture by India and Russia.

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