Chennai’s second airport row: Security beefed up at Parandur amid fears of protests

From checkposts and vehicle checks to calls from the police, Parandur residents allege the police is clamping down on any opposition to the Chennai airport project.
Parandur Airport Project Chennai's second airport
Parandur Airport Project Chennai's second airport
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As fear of protests looms large, police have stepped up security at the proposed site for Chennai’s second airport. Residents of Parandur allege that there has been an increase in police deployment across 13 villages, with new checkposts coming up. Over the past few days, patrolling has intensified and the presence of police personnel both in uniform and civilian clothes in the area. 

When TNM visited Parandur on Tuesday, August 30, this reporter was stopped at one of  the checkpoints in Ekanapuram. Similarly, multiple police checkpoints have been set up in and around Parandur – putting anyone who is entering the area under the police radar. One of the villagers asked TNM, “How did you manage to enter the village? There are multiple police checkposts at all entry and exit points to the village.”  

At Ponnerikarai, Parandur Hospital, Eganapuram, Kannanthangal and Edayarpakkam areas in Parandur, new checkposts have been set up by the police. TNM spoke to one of the villagers who spoke to us under the condition of anonymity and said, “We feel that we have been surrounded by the police. Check posts and barricades have been put up in various places. In our village the police are not preventing or stopping anyone from entering our village. But police patrolling has increased in our area,” he added. 

Police officers at the entry point of Kannanthangal Village (TNM Photo by Nithya Pandian)

TNM’s last visit to Parandur on August 12 hardly raised eyebrows – residents spoke without fear of being questioned by the police. However, on August 30, many residents were unwilling to speak with reporters and told TNM that police are keeping an eye on people who are against the project and police had even detained some villagers recently.  

A political party worker who belongs to Parandur said “police personnel have been deployed at various places in the village and on the first day they wanted the locals to arrange for an accommodation for the police personnel.” 

Residents said the police are enquiring about people who enter the village and those who are in touch with the media. “We received ‘friendly’ calls from the local police station saying, don't protest against the Parandur project and don't allow or encourage outsiders to get involved in this matter", says a resident of Nagapattu in Parandur. He added that the district administration has prepared a list of 20-25 prominent people who are opposing the project and their activities will be monitored. 

Police officers at the entry point of Eganapuram Village (TNM Photo by Nithya Pandian)

While the Tamil Nadu government has promised that residents will not be harassed and a fair compensation package will be given to them for their lands, a section of people have raised a banner of protest against the proposed second airport project. The area also witnessed increased political activity with leaders like PMK President Anbumani Ramadoss, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) chief Seeman visiting Parandur to meet residents. On Tuesday, August 30, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) cadres were detained and taken into preventive custody by the police after they tried to enter Parandur. The police operations in Parandur have been led by Kancheepuram Superintendent of Police Dr M Sudhakar, who is on the ground.

Watch: Chennai second airport, we will win over the people: TN Minister Thangam Thennarasu 

On Sunday, August 28, the Kancheepuram police detained two activists Pananiappan and Gunsekara Dharmaraja belonging to Movement Against 8-Lane Way, that protested against the Salem-Chennai expressway project announced by the AIADMK regime. The two arrived at Kancheepuram by train and they were stopped at the railway station and picked up by the police. "We met a few farmers in Parandur last week. But this time we were not heading to Parandur, we visited Kancheepuram for some other work, but the police detained us," said Palaniyappan who is the Coordinator of Movement Against 8-lane way.

Palaniappan also added that his colleague Gunasekaran was manhandled by the police when he tried to inform his family members and lawyers about his detention. The police also wanted us to sign an undertaking but we refused to do so, “The police asked us to sign a letter stating that we will not visit Parandur village and meet farmers anymore, but we refused to do so. After spending some time in the police station, we were asked to leave," he added. 

Barricades and outpost at Purasai Check-post near Parandur Village (TNM Photo by Nithya Pandian)

Fearing large scale mobilisation, the Kancheepuram police has invoked Section 30(2) of the Police Act  from August 24 to the next 15 days. As per the section, prior permission is required from the police to conduct meetings, processions and events. Kancheepuram SP Dr M Sudhakar, however, denied that vehicles were being checked or that the police was trying to quell protests. "All these measures are taken as a part of law and order protocol. We are not preventing anyone from protesting because there are no protests taking place here.” 

However, residents of Parandur have been told that these measures are put in place as part of Vinayaga Chaturthi bandobast, "We celebrate Vinayagar Chaturthi every year, but we never heard of section 30(2) invoked in our village.” said one resident. TNM tried to reach Kancheepuram Collector Aarthi for her comments on the claims made by the villagers but our calls went unanswered. 

Watch: Chennai’s second airport leaves Parandur residents anxious over their fate

On August 15, India’s 75th Independence Day, the residents of Parandur came together and adopted a resolution against the proposed airport project. However, the Tamil Nadu government says that they will win over the people of Parandur and ensure the smooth implementation of the project. The Tamil Nadu government announced last week that the people who are about to be displaced will get 3.5 times the value of the land.  Minister EV Velu also assured the people that residents from 13 villages surrounding the newly constructed airport will get jobs. 

The proposed airport will handle 10 crore passengers annually and will have two runways, terminal buildings, taxiways, aprons, cargo terminals, and other infrastructure, all at an estimated budget of Rs 20,000 crore.

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