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Anti-nuke protest turns violent

Demonstrator killed as police fire on crowd

Protesters near the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Protesters near the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant
  • ucanews.com reporters, Thiruvananthapuram & Chennai
  • India
  • September 11, 2012
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A fisherman was shot by police as an anti-nuclear protest in Tamil Nadu spread and turned violent yesterday.

Antony John, 44, died after police opened fire at a group protesting in Manappad village in Tuticorin district, about 57 kms from the nuclear plant.

The state government has announced compensation of 500,000 rupees (US$ 9020) for the victim’s family, but people are demanding a judicial enquiry, rejecting the police explanation that they fired in “self-defense.”

“We have deployed 4,000 personnel as the violence has spread to neighboring districts,” said a police spokesman.

Protests have gathered momentum since the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board gave the go-ahead last month for the installation of 163 enriched uranium fuel rods in the first of two 1,000 MW reactors in Koodankulam village in Tirunelveli district.

Thousands of people arrived at the the facility yesterday. Police fired tear-gas shells when the protesters tried to proceed toward the plant in 10 fiberglass boats.

Police said the protesters started pelting stones and came very close to the nuclear plant. Many jumped into the sea to escape police action.

“Protesters had plans to invade the nuclear plant and we were forced to take preventive action,” K. Ramanujam, police director-general, told reporters in Chennai yesterday.

The protesters were chased away from the site and are now on a 48-hour hunger strike at Lourde Matha Church in Idinthakarai village, four kms from the plant.

The protesters, who include fishermen and farmers from at least 20 villages, have been campaigning against the plant since 2004.

Local sources said the police are searching all the houses in Idinthakarai village and randomly arresting people who oppose the project. They broke windows and desecrated a statue in the village, witnesses said.

“Police went into the church, brought out Mother Mary’s statue and broke it. They also urinated on the statue,” said Infant Preeka, an eyewitness.

S. P. Udayakumar, the coordinator of People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the protest, told reporters from an undisclosed location that police are using intimidation tactics.

“The fight against the nuclear plant will continue," he said.

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