11-member team heading for Kudankulam arrested

TIRUNELVELI: Coastal Kudankulam and Idinthakarai villages in Tirunelveli district are increasingly turning out of bounds for outsiders, suspected to be supporters of the anti-nuclear stir. After CPM veteran V S Achuthananthan was turned away at the Tamil Nadu border when he was heading to Idinthakarai, and three Japanese anti-nuclear activists were deported from Chennai last month, a 11-member fact finding team from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa on their way to Kudankulam was intercepted and arrested by police on Friday.

Cases have been registered against the 11 under six counts including intimidation of police personnel and preventing them from discharging their duty. The 11 were produced before a judicial magistrate at Nanguneri and remanded in custody. At a marriage hall where they were detained by the police, K Kesavan of the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, said their visit was intended to find out facts that led to the police lathi-charge on September 10 and the subsequent developments.

“After fact-finding, we have also planned to meet the district collector,” he told reporters. But police said they were being arrested as their visit may disturb peace and harmony in the region, where a curfew is in force. The team comprised four persons including a woman advocate from Madurai, three people from Andhra Pradesh, two from Jharkhand, one woman each from Orissa and New Delhi. The team assembled at Madurai and took a train to Tirunelveli from where they were heading towards Kudankulam in a bus when they were intercepted. Police got a tip-off that such a team from Andhra Pradesh was heading to Kudankulam and Idinthakarai.

A team of police personnel led by ADSP Mahendran stopped the bus at Nanguneri tollgate and asked the 11 to get down. Police suspected that they might have naxal links, but a senior official said for now they have not gathered any evidence to suggest that. A brief altercation broke out between the members of the team and the police as soon as they were intercepted. The irate team members argued that they were only visiting the place to gather information about the protest and they had no links with naxalites as alleged by the police. However, police detained and took them to a marriage hall in the same locality where they were subject to daylong interrogation.


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