Church bells tolled at Idinthakarai at 8.25am on Thursday 22 March after rumours of police moving towards the protest venue. Within minutes hundreds of villagers thronged St Lourdes Church grounds and People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) convener SP Udayakumar and his associate Pushparayan moved out of the stage where they are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since 19 March. Fearing impending police action that the rumours warned of, the villagers shifted them to a safe area. Hundreds of women encircled the central zone and the men stood behind them. Some shouted slogans while others kept an eye on the roads. After 20 minutes of high voltage tension, volunteers keeping an eye on the police activites, informed the leaders there was no movement of police vehicles. The scene changed immediately and the children returned to their playfields; and the volunteers’ security circle was relaxed.
“Rumours of police movement have the effect of a mock drill here and the crowd gets tense. This is the fourth time that the rumours created stress here,” said Raj Leon (57) one of the many stranded at the protest grounds for the last four days. “The whole village is sitting here as we have reached a no point of return. I’m also one of them and we will remain here till they close down the plant, this is our unanimous decision,” he said. A fragile-looking Leon believes that they will win their war against Nuclear plant as the locals are talking in one voice. “Here we have only one agenda. If the government ignores our silent protests and democratic rights, then it’s our fate,” said Leon.
However, not all are as calm as him. The women, specially, are agitated and emotional but have become more aware and socially active. They have abandoned their daily chores, children and jobs to be a part of the protesting crowd. They too say they have reached a point of return .
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