Statement against police firing on protestors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra

April 20, 2011

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations condemn the Maharashtra Police firing on protestors who were demonstrating against the proposed Nuclear Power Park at Jaitapur, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.

The corrupting influence of the nuclear companies over the political parties has been revealed in the Indo-US nuclear deal. These are the same political players who had played dubious roles during struggle against Enron power plant.

This incident happened at the protest which was organized against the Union Environment Minister’s statement saying, come what may the Nuclear Park will be built in Jaitapur and Prime Minister’s consistent advocacy for nuclear energy unmindful of the tragic incident in Japan.

In the police firing on 18th April, 2011, one person died and 8 others were seriously injured. This firing should not be seen in isolation. For the past one year, the government of Maharashtra has unleashed a reign of terror in the entire Jaitapur area against farmers, fishing folks and other rural artisans who have launched a non-violent and protracted democratic struggle against snatching away of their land, livelihood and the imminent catastrophe from the proposed Nuclear Power Park.

We oppose any forcible acquisition of land against the wishes of the local farmers.

The high-handedness of Maharashtra State Government has been evident for the last four years. A local Konkani activist Vaishali Patil and even other prominent Konkan and Maharashtra residents like Retd. Admiral L. Ramdas and Retd. Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant were arbitrarily declared out of bounds from Ratnagiri District.

This is a flagrant violation of democratic rights. This is clear example of stamping out the right to protest which is one of the sacrosanct constitutional rights in the country. It should be noted that Mr. Narayan Rane, the State Revenue Minister who also hails from the Konkan region has been going around Jaitapur area and threatening everyone who protests against the proposed Nuclear Power Park. Mr. Rane has also openly given a call to local Indian National Congress cadres to forcibly drive out the activists who are protesting against the Nuclear Power Park.

We are seriously concerned about Shiv Sena’s role in provoking the tragic incident. Motivated hooliganism and strong arm tactics of Shiv Sena is a well known phenomena which often dissipates the possibility of peaceful democratic protests. This provides the logic to the administration for Police repression and vilifying peaceful mass protests. Shiv Sena’s opportunism in the Anti- Enron Struggle in the 1990s is well known.

We disapprove of such rank opportunism of these political outfits which attempts to divert the studied pace and direction of the ongoing struggle against the Nuclear Power Park in the Ratnagiri district.

The people of Jaitapur are carrying out peaceful struggle against the proposed Nuclear Power Park for the past 4 years, but Congress Party’s partisan role and Shiv Sena’s unwarranted entry into the struggle has vitiated the atmosphere.

In the aftermath of the nuclear accidents in Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, a stark rationale for the abandonment of nuclear energy has emerged. In a situation where admittedly public health infrastructure is non-existent to deal with the inevitable event of nuclear emergency, promotion of nuclear commerce cannot be approved. We disapprove of nuclear energy in such a context where countries after countries are abandoning or doing a rethink about this option.

Therefore, we demand

* Scrapping of the proposed nuclear plant in the Ratnagiri district and other states in the country
* Judicial Enquiry into the incident of police firing on 18th April
* Strong action against the district officials and the Police officers who ordered the police firing on the protesters
* Immediately withdraw the false cases against the activists, the villagers and rescind the externment orders

Several citizens groups and people’s organizations will be demonstrating against the police firing and the myopic promotion of nuclear energy on 21st April at 11.30 AM at Jantar Mantar.

Endorsed by

Organisations – National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), Popular Education and Action Centre (PEACE), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Coalition on Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), Delhi Forum, Programme for Social Action (PSA)

Individuals – Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey (MKSS), Rajendra Ravi (IDS), Chittaranjan Singh (INSAF/ PUCL), Anil Chaudhary, Gopal Krishna (ToxicsWatch Alliance), Kiran Shaheen (Media Action Group), Susan Abraham (FORRAD), Prakash K. Ray (, P T George (Intercultural Resources), Benny Kuruvilla (Focus on the Global South), Preeti Sampat, Prem Piram (JAGAR), Amit Mahanti (Frame Works Research & Media Collective), Asit (Delhi Platform), Shree Prakash (MISAAL), Sandeep Singh (AISA), Wilfred D’ Costa, Soumya Dutta (Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha),Priya Pillai (Greenpeace), Sundaram P., Prafull Bidwai (CNDP), Kavita Krishnan (Central Committee Member, CPI (ML) Liberation), Mona Das, S. Lahiri (NFFPFW)

New Delhi, Dt. 19th April, 2011