Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy announced on Friday while campaigning in Tenkasi that the state government will consider withdrawing cases against people who were part of the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Between 2011 and 2013, the Tamil Nadu police had booked around 9,000 people from villages around the plant under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including sedition. These people participated in peaceful protests against establishing a nuclear power plant in Kudankulam and have been bearing the repercussions of these cases for years.
âProtests were conducted against the setting up of the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam. During the protests, several cases were filed. The people requested that these cases against them be removed. We have taken cognisance of this and several cases have already been removed. Some of the cases are now being investigated by the court. Other cases are in the FIR stage. People in that area have asked that these cases be taken back. Based on the law, we will consider their request," the CM said at Tenkasi.
The cases were filed at a time when the AIADMK led by J Jayalalithaa was in power in Tamil Nadu and the UPA government was at the centre. Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had tried to discredit the protesters, alleging that a âforeign handâ was suspected behind the protest.
The peak struggle at Kudankulam started in August 2011 in Kudankulam village and continued in Idinthakarai village for at least three years.
A representation was made to the CM on Thursday by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), asking the state to withdraw 105 pending cases. It was in response to this petition, that the CM said the state will consider taking back all cases.
Meanwhile, SP Udayakumar, convenor of PMANE, welcomed the Chief Ministerâs announcement.
âWe have kept the issue alive in the last seven years (2014-2021) with lawsuits, personal meetings, conferences, consultations, seminars, nationwide train campaigns, demonstrations, press conferences, and televised debates. Decades later, we are still talking and working on the Kudankulam protests. We welcome the announcement made by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu today (Friday) in Kadayanallur. We are ready to talk, consult and cooperate with police and judicial officials regarding cases,â he said.
The construction of the power plant was started in the early 2000s, but the protest around it increased from August 2011, after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster earlier that year. The main contention of the protesters was that in the case of a nuclear emergency, it will not be possible to immediately evacuate people from around the plant. The police however clamped on these protests and filed multiple cases against people.
In 2019, TNM had spoken to many people who had sedition cases against them. One such protester named Milton told TNM, that in the first three or four years after the protests, people who had cases on then were not even allowed to move out of the village to look for jobs. Others had talked about how police impounded their passports and when some applied for passports, they could not obtain a 'No Objection Certificate' from the police as required by the passport authorities.
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The CM also announced that all cases filed against those who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as those registered against people violating the COVID-19 lockdown will be withdrawn. The CM said that around 1,500 cases registered against anti-CAA protesters under charges of causing damage to public property and preventing police from working will be withdrawn. The government has also said that around 10 lakh cases, filed in connection to lockdown violations, will also be withdrawn.