Protesters take to the sea, leaders say being hounded
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On a day the movement against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant suffered a setback with the Supreme Court refusing to stay uranium loading, thousands of villagers took to the sea and stood inside the water off the coast of Idinthakarai village on Thursday, even as a strong posse of police and Coast Guard kept vigil on land, water and air to ensure that no untoward incidents happened during the protest.
Pressure on the leader of the protesters, S P Udayakumar, increased as the judicial magistrate of Vallioor issued summons to him and his wife to be present before the court on September 18.
"The authorities have framed similar charges against my wife Meera as well, though she has nothing to do with the protests. This is a clear case of intimidation, a warning that my family including my aged parents would suffer if I don't stop the protests and surrender. I fear for my life, as the space for democratic public protests has shrunk this much in our country," Udayakumar told The Indian Express over phone from an undisclosed location.
Thus far, there are about 270 FIRs registered against Udayakumar, including eight for waging war against the nation (section 121 of the IPC) and one under section 124 A (sedition).
M Pushparayan, another leader of the agitation, said policemen came to his residence in Palayamkottai on Thursday around the same time the personnel went to Udayakumar's house, to serve the summons, but did not do so. His wife Hemalatha, too, has been named in at least one case when she sat on a relay fast at Idinthakarai some time ago.
This has raised questions about the rationale behind dragging the family members who have not been part of the protests. Meera, for instance, has been managing the South Asian Community Centre for Education and Research, which runs a school for poor children in Nagercoil.
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