A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com travelled to Idinthakarai, the epicentre of protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, where two factions of people chose to settle scores by hurling country bombs at each other.
Idinthakarai has always been in the news for all the wrong reasons, ever since it became the epicentre of the protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant barely 2 km away four years ago.
In November last year eight people had been killed here when home-made bombs exploded here. Those bomb makers were from the neighbouring Koothankuli village but residing in Idinthakarai. After that incident all Koothankuli villagers were asked to leave Idinthakarai.
It seems violence is not too far away from the village. On the morning of June 23, a Monday, some 40 villagers armed with swords and country-made bombs created havoc on a street near the sea, throwing bombs randomly at homes.
But none of the affected villagers approached the police station outside the nuclear plant. For the last four years the police have not been able to enter the village, as the residents had blocked their path by digging up the road, keeping boulders on it and also a check-post they have put up themselves. Even women and children come out to block the roads.
The police, not wanting to attack them, have simply kept away.
Finally it was left to the village administrative officer, a government servant, to file a police complaint. The cops went to the village in one of their rare visits (the last time they did so was on November 26, 2013).
An FIR has been filed against 20 persons and 20 others, all from Idinthakarai village.
The village committee held a meeting at the local church but they could not come to an agreement. The elders wanted to call both sides for a peace meeting, but the women whose houses faced the bomb attack were adamant. They wanted an eye for an eye.
The problem actually started on Sunday night. One of the boats tethered to a rock off the village coast had broken loose and was battered against the rocks. The boat owner and his friends, on seeing the damage, started abusing everyone on the way back, accusing them of cutting the boat loose.
One man, aged 55, objected to this, and was manhandled. Seeing his father being beaten up his 17-year-old son beat up another teenager who was with the boat owner.
This boy’s father and the boat owner came back with a group of 40 men and hurled bombs at the people who according to them had beaten up their young boy.
Satish, one of those who had faced the bomb attack, says, “The police came here with the panchayat president to inquire. But his friends and relatives were the ones who attacked us, so how can we identify them when the police are hand in glove with them?”
Father Jaikumar of the Idinthakarai church, against who a plethora of police cases have been lodged because of the anti-Kudankulam stir and who tried to restore peace, told Rediff.com, “There is a group in this village who want development work here. And funds for the development will not come from the government as long as the protests continue. It is this group that has attacked that particular street.
“This is an enmity that has lasted three years. They feel we are stopping the village from receiving funds.”
The government had announced a Rs 300 crore fund to develop 11 villages around Kudankulam, which was generally meant to pacify the villagers who were protesting against the nuclear plant.
Idinthakarai, a part of the Vijayapathi panchayat which should receive about Rs 30 crores from this corpus, has not received it. A vindictive government has refused funds as long as the protestors’ pandal outside the church and a board which gives the protest countdown are not removed.
The cops at the Kudankulam police station, who were in a rare friendly mood, told this correspondent, “You have to understand that we have to deal with them with kid gloves. This village has a long history of opposing the police, the government and everyone else. Expecting them to suddenly co operate with us is foolish.”
They cops added, “Small bombs were used, they will not kill anyone. They were meant to scare, not hurt. They are usually used by these fishermen to scare the fish towards their nets at sea.”