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Why are TN police so keen to jail anti-nuke activist?

July 20, 2017 12:22 IST

'All this for only one reason -- that I oppose the government's nuclear power policy.'
'They will not break my resolve.'
'I will stand by my principle, which is to point out that nuclear energy is not safe.'
A Ganesh Nadar reports.

Anti-nuclear activist S P Udaykumar last week secured anticipatory bail in an FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) case filed against him for receiving $3,000 in 2008.

Udaykumar is a trustee at the South Asian Community Centre for Education and Research which received dollars valued at Rs 232,000 in 2008.

The activist had spent 17 years in the United States as a teacher, and one of his friends there decided to financially help run the school run by the centre in Nagercoil, Kanyakumar district, Tamil Nadu.

"The police has been hounding me for the past five years with this case. Under the guise of inquiry and investigation they have been harassing me, so I decided to move the high court," Udaykumar told this correspondent.

Last week, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court granted him anticipatory bail in the FCRA case with the condition that he reports to the crime branch-criminal investigation department in Nagercoil once a week.

Udaykumar has over 300 cases filed against him for spearheading the agitation against the Koodangulam nuclear power plant in Thirunelveli district.

Several cases of sedition, of waging war against the nation were filed against the anti-nuclear activist.

When he has such serious cases against him, the Tamil Nadu police's eagerness to arrest him for an FCRA violation -- that too for a sum less than $3,000 from nine years ago -- is puzzling.

"If they arrest me in any Koodangulam case," says Udayakumar, "then they will have to arrest a few hundred people involved in the same agitation."

"If the villagers of Idinthakarai are arrested now, it might re-ignite the agitation even as the nuclear power plant is going for a massive expansion," he explains.

"The first two plants have exceeded the budget many times over," he adds, "now the third plant is expected to cost twice as much, at Rs 36,000 crores (Rs 360 billion) and the fourth a mind-boggling Rs 50,000 crores (Rs 500 billion). Who is paying this money, and to whom?"

"From where are they getting the money?" Udayakumar asks. "They are saying Russia is giving us a loan. How much is that loan? What is the rate of interest? Is the interest rate competitive?"

"We want to know all this, and if the information is not made available to us then we suspect something wrong," he insists.

Challenging the granting of anticipatory bail to him, the CB-CID told the high court, 'He has committed the offence of challenging the economy and policy of the country, which are serious in nature.'

"I have to go to the police station once a week and I have to pay the lawyers to defend me in court. All this for only one reason -- that I oppose the government's nuclear power policy. They will not break my resolve," says Udaykumar.

"I will stand by my principle, which is to point out that nuclear energy is not safe."

A Ganesh Nadar