Eight days after they began an indefinite fast against the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam,the protesting leaders called it off after talks with district authorities this morning. S P Udayakumar and M Pushparayan were among the 15 people who withdrew the fast,but said their struggle would continue until their arrested fellow activists were released.
Until then,shops will be closed,a relay fast will continue,fishermen will refrain from going to the sea,and students will boycott classes, Udayakumar said.
A sign that a climbdown was imminent came yesterday after the protesters indicated their willingness to hold talks. The discussions were held at the Tirunelveli collectorate this morning.
Protesting leaders demanded a lifting of the curfew in Radhapuram and the withdrawal of cases. Collector R Selvaraj told them that prohibitory orders under Section 144 would be lifted but not in Koodankulam village where the nuclear power plant is situated. As for withdrawal of cases,he said he would apprise the state government,which would decide.
After initial fears of a showdown,it became clear that authorities were in no hurry to act so long as the protest fast did not hamper ongoing work at the Koodankulam project. For,the protesters were gathered at Idinthakarai,about 6 km from the plant site,and the whole region was under curfew.
The police dealt with the protest by way of containment rather than by going on the offensive. So even as the fast continued,work at the plant resumed after a seven-month impasse.