The Madurai regional passport officer has claimed that anti-nuclear power plant activist S P Udayakumar may flee the country as there are 98 criminal cases against him. A Ganesh Nadar reports
As protests against the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam and the relay fast in different villages continue for the 231st day, the Madurai regional passport officer on Monday issued a notice to S P Udayakumar, convenor of the movement spearheading the stir against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant, asking him to surrender his passport within 15 days.
The officer said that Udayakumar may flee the country as there are 98 criminal cases against him.
"It is funny. I have not been arrested. I have not been taken to court. Normally, the police or the courts impound people's passport. Why is the passport officer suddenly getting active, the passport is my property and I have got it by due legal process. He has no right to ask for it. I have sent his letter to my lawyer for his opinion. I am not going to give it to him," says Udayakumar.
With over 200 protestors in jail, Udayakumar said they have obtained bail for over a 100 of them and they would be home on Tuesday. The rest would come out on April 4 when their bail application comes up for hearing.
The government will not contest their bail claim as it is part of the compromise arrived at when the protestors stopped their fast unto death on March 23.
However, the protestors, who are being tried under the anti-National act, will not get bail easily. Deccan Chronicle reporter M Arulozhi told rediff.com, "I was there when they were arrested. There was a protest on but the protestors did not know where the boundary of the plant was. The police told them not to cross a certain point, which they did not. But suddenly the police changed the point from the earlier line and arrested them. It was a mistake and not any deliberate attempt of the protestors to enter the plant. And any way they would not know what to do even if they did enter the plant. It's a false case."
On one hand the government has decided to go ahead with the plant and the protestors have now given up their demand for stopping the plant. All they are asking for is to release their supporters, to make safety measures transparent and allay local fears.
The government has raided Udayakumar's school and NGO office. It has frozen the accounts of his supporting NGOs, which includes the biggest church in Tuticorin district, and now it has threatened to take away his passport.
The government has won the game thanks to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's flip flop on the issue. Now that they have won the game they should consider releasing the protestors.