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Rediff.com  » News » Police shot dead fisherman 45 km from Kudankulam site

Police shot dead fisherman 45 km from Kudankulam site

Last updated on: September 17, 2012 10:28 IST

Police shot dead fisherman 45 km from Kudankulam site

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A Ganesh Nadar

There has to be an enquiry to find out why a fisherman was shot dead 45 km from the site of the Kudankulam agitation, and also why has the shooter policeman not been suspended yet. A Ganesh Nadar reports.

Manapadu is a coastal village in Tamil Nadu, about 45 kms from Kudankulam, the site of the controversial nuclear plant against which a section of the local villagers have held widespread protests.

While Kudankulam falls in the Tirunelveli district, Manapadu is in Tuticorin district.

G Anthony John, 47, a labourer fisherman, left his house at 4 pm on Thursday to fetch diabetes medicines for his wife Buella from the nearest town of Udangudi.

The agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear plant had turned violent on September 11. The agitating fishermen had thrown sand at the cops who had retaliated with a lathicharge, followed by tear gas, and had finally fired in the air to disperse the protestors.

In nearby villages, there was impromptu blocking of roads all along the coastal road which winds itself from Thiruchendur to Kanyakumari.

In Manapadu village too, they blocked the road. Not only did the agitators block the road but they also set fire to a temporary thatched-roof shelter that the cops had made near their village during their absence.

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Image: G Anthony John
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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'Antony had never participated in any agitation at Kudankulam'

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Meanwhile, G Antony John was returning home from Udangudi. There were no buses as the roads had been blocked; so he took a share trekker till Kulasekharapattinam and then decided to walk as he was less than 2 kms from his home.

He was only 300 meters away from his village when the tragedy struck. A police jeep had come upon the smoking shelter, and the cops were very angry.

The cops saw Antony walking towards them on the road and shot him through his stomach. The cops left him bleeding on the road.

Hearing the bullet sound, the villagers ran to investigate. They took him to the Thiruchendur government hospital more than an hour away, because no private hospital or doctor would treat a bullet wound. He was declared, 'Brought dead'.

Antony's two daughters Mary and Steffie are devastated, and his widow is in a daze. Villagers say that Antony was a quiet man and did not interfere in any problems in the village.

He was a loner and more or less stayed with his family, a villager says.

Antony had never participated in any agitation at Kudankulam. He was not at all interested in debating the pros and cons of nuclear power, they add.

Villagers say that the police jeep belonged to the nearby Kulasekharapattinam village.

There were six cops in that jeep including a sub-inspector. Antony had been shot dead with a rifle from a distance.

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Image: Demonstrators form a human pyramid in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, as they shout slogans during a protest near the Kudankulam nuclear power project
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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A 'senseless' killing

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The Tamil Nadu government has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation, but has not apologised to Antony's family.

After burying Antony's body peacefully, the villagers had complained to the police. Rajendran, the superintendent of police, Tuticorin district, had come to the Kulasekharapattinam police station and had enquired for an hour about the firing incident.

Rajendran left the police station without even meeting the villagers, and did not even suspend the shooter officer, they said.

However, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko paid a visit and gave Rs 50,000 to the grieving family. He also promised that his party will pay for the children's education.

"Not a single ruling party member has visited us," says a family member. While the elder daughter Mary wants to complete her post graduation in science, do her M Ed and become a teacher, the younger girl Steffie wants to become a staff nurse.

Gnanasekharan, the deputy superintendant of police, Thiruchendur, is in charge of the Kulasekaharapattinam police station in whose limits the killing took place. When this reporter tried to meet him, his assistant replied, "Our DSP does not want to speak about this problem. He cannot speak when his superiors are there to reply to the press".

His only superior is Rajendran, the superintendant of police, Tuticorin district. When we went to the SP's office in Tuticorin, his adjutant said, "The Kudankulam agitation is being handled by the Tirunelveli SP. You go there with your questions".

When explained that the fisherman had been shot dead at Manapadu village which is very much in Tuticorin, he replied, "You cannot meet him as he is on leave but you can speak to the special branch inspector".

Special Branch Inspector Ravi was not available. He did not come even after we waited for half an hour. The cops there gave us his mobile number. He refused to take our call. Thus there was no one in the police department to give us their version.

The DSP in Thiruchendur must certainly be aware that his superior was on leave, which makes him the senior most officer in charge of the case. His refusal to come out speaks volumes of the fact that they do not have a defence to this senseless killing.

The Tamil Nadu government has washed its hands off with a Rs 5 lakh compensation. There has to be an enquiry to find out why a fisherman was shot dead 45 kms from the site of the agitation, and also why has the shooter policeman not been suspended yet.


Image: Antony's widow Buella and daughters Mary and Steffie are devastated
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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