Kumar Jitendra is an activist and studying in JNU, New Delhi. He can be reached at jeetujnu[at]gmail.com.
It was a time when young men used to boast of themselves singing Honeysingh’s cool songs. It was a time when celebrities like Honeysingh were invited to perform in multi-starred hostels. This December witnessed a new warmth in bone-chilling winter of north India and a cool breeze in others parts of India, together. Reason? Delhi witnessed an unprecedented massive middle class movement for a gender just society. In its undeveloped part of Delhi like Munirka, where even elderly women are still confined in their veils, they did not only condemn the heinous act but quite a few of them came out onto the Delhi streets as well. Where girls/women were just a company to their boyfriends or husbands or where they were overshadowed by their ‘caring’ male counterparts, first time India Gate-Raisina road saw a huge number of women who came on their own or their boyfriends/husband along with them. Not to be cared but to scream louder, to be heard independently. That might be the only time when their bodies were least scanned by fellow men.
However, until relationships are based on give and take, where one is always a recipient, protests like these are bound to fail. Despite of all one’s pessimism, one can say that hereafter, Delhi and women would not be same again. Thepoles near Rajpath would always remind us of those girls who climbed on top of them. Thus, movements are not to be won always but for a self realization and enlightenment of state brutality as well.
In the meantime, the end of the year 2012 came and we all started gearing up for New Year celebration brought to us by the market. Quite contrary to that, there were JNU students & Kudankulam people who came out celebrating the protest where the first came out reclaiming the night on Delhi streets and the later took back the sea and its beach.
Unlike a north-Indian village, Idhantkarai is a rather prosperous village, not because of state policies but due to sea which provides livelihoods to the entire community. More beautiful than a filmi village, it has vast sea with relentless tides bringing prosperity to its shore, and another side with hundreds of windmills installed with a capacity of 700 MW electricity. Although this was planned only to benefit private players like Suzlon and was installed and deliberately failed to declare renewable energy a failure and nuclear a panacea. Experts say that a comparatively much smaller investment to modify wind mills and optimize the grids to Indian coastal environment could cater to the local energy requirements for which the Indian Govt is investing much more in nuclear and putting at stake the lives and safety of the huge population altogether.
Anyways, renewable source of energy is cheaper and has a better potential than nuclear energy. This has been already proven and except our Govt and its scientists, every kid of Kudankulam and its surrounding knows this very well. By including nuclear reactors in class VIIIth book of NCERT, Indian establishment has tried to propagate nuclear energy as a simple and efficient source of energy to the common sense conscience of the ‘nation’. Kudankulam has ensured the resistance and fought back with the Govt’s propaganda and the mainstream common sense as well. On the eve of New Year, Kudankulam received support from activists, artists and eminent citizens from the entire country. They all stood against Govt’s false and shrewdly propagated energy theories and questioned the rationale as well. They all defied police’s barricading and on average a two days journey to reach Idhantkarai, where people around of Kudankulam are fighting the struggle to save their land and sea. Kudankulam and surrounding area has been changed in a police cantonment and section 144 has been imposed.
Govt neglected the concerns of the fighting people as prejudice but we had Hazra bi, a survivor of post Bhopal disaster fighting for justice for last 28 years. Her determination has inspired us and people of Kudankulam altogether. We had Laxmi premkumar, a young activist, mobilsing youth and students on this issue who really think about saving this planet rather than advocating our ‘ever-galloping energy requirements. “Anti-national” Dr. Vinayak Sen was there but we found his reflection in person in Kudankulam. We were on an anti-national soil. If Kudankulam has one fatal, unrequired dangerous nuclear reactor then it has also produced hundreds of loving antinational. It has produced a society with strong community feelings and solidarity. Their children have grownup maturely. Those kids find their play time in the midst of protests. For Manmohan singh, they are antinational because they don’t want to earn a guarantee of 100 days job with Rs 100 a day rather they prefer to earn Rs300-400 a day from their traditional job. They have community kitchen, community schools and hospitals. They have learnt to resist not only the Govt. but various social evils as well. Their women are at par with their men. They have learnt to garner support from outside as well.
In a struggle for a better world, they have been learning to fight together, to grow together, thus liberating themselves simultaneously. People struggle together and tender their services to the community services one by one. However, the faces involved in picking up food leftovers or banana leaves plates remained unchanged. In the heart of a progressive movement of our times, it cannot be imagined as a caste discrimination but if it is, this movement must get a chance to rectify itself. In a society where most of the Hinduism’s evils have been left behind, caste discrimination is totally unacceptable . Whatever it is, we can just expect the people of Kudankulam would really fight back and remain winning their struggle and unsung heroes would also be credited their due.
Relatives of the martyrs are still willing to pay. Children are still eager to play the protest games. Women are still out of their houses and we outside still have faith in their struggle. Their unity has come out undefeated from state brutality. If police has condoned the area, people there have also joined together. From Tamilnadu police to central forces, the state has been getting more brutal every day. In mainstream media, their heroic struggles are not often reported but in pictures of earlier protest even we find hard to believe.
This was indeed heart-breaking to see the Indian state’s brutality on peaceful protesters. In Delhi, Chidambaram denied any possibility of air-force’s support against Naxals in Chhatisgarh but in Kudankulam, coast guard plane is used to scare peaceful protesters. In the stampede among protesters due to the low-height flight of coast guard’s plane, a protester died. Obviously they don’t want to use Air strike in Chhatisgarh because there people can respond back as well. Here they want protestors keep dying and losing their livelihood but to remain peaceful altogether. In the meantime, S.P.Udaykumar has been nominated as the person of the year 2012 by Tamilnadu Times of India but one can remember, he was unwelcome in the same villages earlier when the villagers had belief in the Govt. and its policies. That trust failed and S.P.Udaykumar is the face of united protest in Kudankulam. Along with women particularly of Kudankulam, he has been leading a non-violent protest for 508 days consecutively. In these 508 days, S.P.Udaykumar and Idhantkarai village has been not only pronounced “Anti-national” but also has become a claimant of a place in the book of world records. 325 cases on an individual and more than 1Lac 20 thousand cases on the villages around Koodankulam. a . I’m scared of broken believes if those villager looses their faith in S.P.Udaykumar. I am equally frightened of generating distrust across the map from a non-violent peaceful protest for survival. Broken faith can lead us to anarchy as well. Thus we must save those sambar-fishes on banana leaves in that community Kitchen of Idhantkarai.