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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are you going to Kudankulam?

Are you going to Kudankulam?
*Bela Bhatia <> * | Agency: DNA
| Thursday, September 27, 2012

 On Tuesday this week, three Japanese visitors who are part of the
anti-nuclear movement in Japan were refused entry to India and deported on
arrival at Chennai. Reading the account sent by them from Kuala Lumpur
makes for not-exactly-pleasant reading.

"When we got off the plane and approached the immigration counter, one
personnel came to us smiling... [and took] us to the immigration office.
[There were more than five personnel there.] ... one asked me [Yoko Unoda]
whether I am a member of No Nukes Asia Forum Japan. 'You signed the
international petition on Kudankulam, didn't you?' ... another person
asked, 'Mr Watarida ... he is involved in the anti-nuclear movement in
Kaminoseki, right?'

'Are you going to Kudankulam? Who invited you all? … Who will pick you up
at Tuticorin airport? [they had a copy of the itinerary of the domestic
flight] Tell me their names. Tell me their telephone numbers. Will you join
the agitation?' They asked many questions and surprisingly, they knew our
names. I felt scared. I felt something wrong would happen to you. So I
didn't answer anything. Mr [Masahiro] Watarida and Mr [Shinsuke] Nakai also
refused to answer.

At first they talked in a friendly manner. They told us that we can enter
India if we gave them information about the movement in Kudankulam. But
gradually they got irritated. [After] .. more than one hour ... they said
'Answer within five minutes, otherwise you will be deported.' We answered
...but they didn't get satisfied with our answer. ...We were taken to the
Air Asia air plane and it took off immediately."

This is a telling statement about our democracy. So, only certain kinds of
imports are allowed. A harmful technology that more advanced nations like
Germany are pulling out of is allowed. The French Areva and its 18 billion
euros to fund the EPRs (European Pressurized Reactors) in Jaitapur, a
dangerous and expensive experiment to say the least (these will cost many
times more than the indigenous reactors that have been used in India so far
and pose unforeseen hazards since it is untried technology) are allowed.
The scientists and other advocates of nuclear energy are allowed.

Allowed, so unquestioningly that hundreds of policemen are deployed to
wield their lathis on a peacefully protesting people, thousands can find
false cases slapped on them, and non-bailable arrest warrants can be issued
against their leaders.

Their crime? Saying 'No' to the violence of a technology that represents
"poisonous development" to them. It is a sad day for India when activists
of a movement like PMANE (Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Energy) that
has used non-violent and democratic means of struggle for the last three
decades are forced to go underground.

So let's get this straight. What are Indian citizens supposed to do? Are we
supposed to, with quiet acquiescence, only say "yes".Yes to plunder and
loot of natural resources; yes to dehumanising poverty and growing
inequalities despite national "growth"; yes to endemic corruption; yes to
intimidation and strong arm tactics; yes to fabrication of charges and
ignominy of faceless undertrials; yes to the definitions that the State
imposes on us – of what construes "development", "national",
"public-interest", "legal", "democracy"? When law is misused by a legal
authority — authoritatively — such an "authority" makes you shudder.

Perhaps the government should be reminded of the long history of another
kind of "globalisation" that has existed between peoples of the world. To
give one example, Buddhism travelled to Japan and is today more embedded in
Japan than in India.Knowledge knows no borders. Nuclear-related mistakes
made by one government need not be repeated by another. In this respect,
the experience of the people of Japan – regarding nuclear weapons and
nuclear power plants – is unparalleled.

The three activists were going to visit India for only a few days. They had
hoped to avail of the tourist visa on arrival to visit the "temples of
modern India". They came in solidarity, good will and peace. Neither they
nor their friends in India had imagined that being "anti-nuclear" would be
seen as a threat by the Indian government.

Kaminoseki and Kudankulam are two struggles that started at roughly the
same time. The fisher-folk and farmers of Kaminoseki have been protesting
the proposed Kaminoseki nuclear power plant arguing that their present way
of life was harmonious with nature and that they did not want the
"development" that the nuclear power plant offered, especially with its
concomitant dangers. The struggle of the people of Kaminoseki and
Kudankulam is a struggle for determining a way of life – a different kind
of self-determination.

People in many parts of the world today have enough evidence at their
command to come to the conclusion that there can be no "peaceful" use of a
technology that has seeds of destruction and annihilation. I am not a
member of the No Nukes Asia Forum. But I will soon be. And am I going to
Kudankulam?Definitely. Coming?

*Bela Bhatia is honorary professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences,
Mumbai l*

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