Tamil Nadu – Press statement from eminent women urging the immediate release of the 3 women of Idinthakarai
November 14, 2012
14 November, 2012
Nearly a 100 prominent Indian women have written to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the National Commission for Women urging them to facilitate the release of three Idinthakarai women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari. All three imprisoned women are fore-runners in the 15-month long struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
The list of signatories includes notable senior writers, scientists, advocates, thinkers, artists and feminists including Mahasweta Devi, Aruna Roy, Romila Thapar, Vandana Shiva, Mallika Sarabhai, Lalita Ramdas, Medha Patkar, Pamela Philipose, Vrinda Grover, Devaki Jain, Kalpana Kannabiran and Shabnam Hashmi. The letter was in reaction to to what the signatory women termed as “the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed.”
The letter endorsed by the women stated that the women’s “alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to protect their families, their communities and their future generations.”
The Idinthakarai trio is currently in the Trichy Women’s prison, facing several charges including of sedition and waging war against the state, in six cases. They have already spent a month in jail, with the police bringing up fresh cases at each bail hearing. Most recently, three new cases based on earlier FIRs were registered and warrants served on the jailed women on 9 November, 2012. The letter noted the discrepancy between the FIRs’ claims that protestors were carrying aruvals (sickles), crowbars and other deadly weapons, and the TV footage from the police crackdown of 10 September which carries no substantiation of these allegations.
Women and other supporters from across the country have said they will visit the three women in jail, and work towards their speedy release.
For more information, contact:
Geetha V. — 9840998517 (Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle)
Letter to Tamil Nadu CM and National Commission for Women
To: Selvi Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009
To: Ms Mamta Sharma, National Commission on Women
No. 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002.
Date: Nov 14, 2012
We are writing to urge you to facilitate the speedy release of three courageous women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari — of Idinthakarai who are currently in the Trichy Women’s Prison. Their alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to protect their families, their communities and their future generations. Xavier Amma, Selvi and Sundari are strong, though gentle, women who have worked hard to keep their families together by rolling beedis, and selling fish. When the occasion demanded, as it did with the impending commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors post-Fukushima, the unanswered questions about its safety galvanised the women from villages around Koodankulam into action. Among those thousands of women, these three have clearly stood out as leaders.
Following the September 11 police crackdown on the dharna by villagers opposed to nuclear energy, the police have arrested many villagers, including those who were in no way part of the protests. Across the board, the FIRs record that the villagers were armed with deadly weapons like “aruval (machetes), knives, sticks and crowbars.” Television footage of the September protests and police action bear testimony to the fact that the protestors were unarmed. Xavier Amma injured her hand after she ran and fell into the sea to escape the baton-wielding police. Both Selvi and Sundari have children that need taking care of. Selvi’s son is epileptic. It is indeed absurd that such women have been arbitrarily accused of sedition and waging war against the state. While releasing tens of others on bail at the same hearing of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, it is unclear as to why only these three have been denied bail.
We, the under-signed, are women from different walks of life who are very concerned at the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed. We are writing to urge you to kindly act to restore justice by releasing these three women so that they can join their families, and by facilitating the return of a sense of normalcy in the villages around Koodankulam.
Dr. Devaki Jain
Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran
Dr. Romila Thapar
Dr. Vandana Shiva
D W Karuna
Dr Jyothi Krishnan
Dr Kaveri Indira
Dr S Santhi
Dr Sagari Ramdas,
Dr Sharmila Rege,
Dr Usha S. Naik,
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Mary E John,
Meera Uday Kumar
Uma V Chandru,
V M Girija
Vidya Vasant Patil
Dr Mallika Ramdas