Three days after their village was cordoned off by a heavy police posse,the anti-nuclear agitators at Idinthakarai,where a sit-in has been going on for seven months,have geared up to face the challenge.
From the presence of a few dozen women agitators,the protest has grown into a full-blown battle of at least 5,000 people against the state. A few thousand more are waiting to plunge into a confrontation at the chime of the local church bell.
The protesters have taken precautions to prevent a police swoop on the agitation venue. The fishermen have stopped going into the sea since Monday. Young men have been posted as security guards outside the village. Roads have been dug in many places to obstruct vehicular movement. The Catholic Church is also active. Three priests heading the parishes of Idinthakarai,Koodankulam and Kootapuly have joined the protest.
We will not run away even if there is a police action. Let the police beat or shoot us, says Fr Jayakumar of St Lourdes Mary Church,Idinthakarai.
If the police are awaiting a green signal from the government to arrest the leaders,the villagers have the chiming of church bell as signal to get into action. On Wednesday,when a few police vehicles approached,the church bell brought out people in large numbers, says Raj Lion,a villager.
Since movement of provisions and supply of drinking water have been affected,the fishermen have resorted to the sea route. Since many houses are running out of essential commodities,we have decided to cook food for all thrice a day. We ferry water pouches in boats from Kanyakumari, said Peter Milton,a second rung leader.
Thirunelveli district collector R Selvaraj denied that villagers access to essential commodities was blocked.
Meanwhile,a Nagarcoil school,run by Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy convener S P Udayakumars wife Meera,was reportedly found damaged.