PUDUKKOTTAI: The thirteenth day of protests against the hydrocarbon protest at Neduvasal in Pudukkottai on Wednesday saw protesters receiving words of advice from those who have took the path of mass protests in the past.
Prominent among them were S P Udayakumar, a member of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which has raised a banner of revolt at Idinthakarai against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project. Addressing the protesters who stayed put at Sri Nadiyamman Thidal, Udayakumar, who now heads a political outfit called Pachai Tamilagam, urged the villagers to form a core committee to co-ordinate the stir.
Drawing from his experience, Udayakumar said, “The protest must continue till the goal is achieved. The State government and police may try to scuttle your agitation by spreading rumours about frontline leaders of the protest. To prevent such rumours and indirect attacks, you must form a core committee. It must be devoid of political leanings and not have any politician or caste or religious leader on board,” he said.
In a word of encouragement, Pudukkottai Bar Association secretary Ramesh said the association would file a PIL in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court if the State government failed to scrap the project.
“All democratic forces in the State are supporting the Neduvasal protest. Your victory on this issue is sure,” said Arputhammal, the mother of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Perarivalan.
Actor Mansoor Ali Khan, former Tiruchy Mayor Charubala Thondaiman also addressed the gathering.
Earlier in the day, president of Muvendhar Munnetra Kazhagam Sridhar Vandaiyar set a two-day ultimatum to the State government to scrap the proposed project, and warned that he would organise a padayatra from Neduvasal to Pudukkottai. He said his outfit would assemble one lakh people.
Around 20,000 shops and commercial establishments remained closed from dawn to dusk in the day in a show of solidarity with the protesters. The bandh call by the District Chamber of Commerce evoked a positive response and the thoroughfares in Pudukkottai town and bazaars wore a deserted look. Buses plied with a minimum number of passengers.
The precautionary measures put in place by police to prevent a build-up of supporters at Neduvasal seemed to have had no effect. On Tuesday, police had erected seven check posts on all roads leading to Neduvasal and Nallankollai and the identities of those proceeding to the villages were recorded.
Students arriving in small batches were turned away and asked to get their parents consent.
However, on Wednesday, the cops watched helplessly as large convoy of cars and two-wheelers moved in.
Meanwhile, residents of Neduvasal said they would announce their decision on continuing their protest on Thursday, after holding discussions with the team that met Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday.