The Republic, Sedition, and Koodankulam: An Interview with Dr. S P Udayakumar
As the missiles and tanks are geared up to be paraded at the India Gate on the country’s 64th Republic Day, people’s faith in the promise they did to themselves is missing. Is it just a government discredited by corruption and inability to ensure basic safety and freedom to its people, or the very idea of citizenship itself is under question? Last year, people in Koodankulam marked 26th January as Black Day. Earlier, children had come out in Jaitapur questioning the legitimacy of the republic. Is it the people who are challenging the republic or the state has abandoned its people? With more than 10 thousand people booked under sedition and war against the Indian state in Koodankulam, it is time we as a country face the issue head-on.
We interviewed S P Udayakumar, leader of the massive nonviolent protest in Koodankulam:
1. What is the status of sedition charges in Koodankulam?
Some 19 cases of sedition (IPC 124A) have been filed against us involving 8,456 people. Some 92 people have been arrested so far and most of them except 6 have been released on bail. Those six are imprisoned under the Goondas Act and cannot come out at least for a year. Most of us, the leading members of PMANE, face 19 cases of sedition and 19 cases of ‘waging war on the State.’
2. Why do you think the Govt has leveled people in Koodankulam seditious?
I think it is because they want to send a strong and threatening message to the rest of Indians that no one should dare to challenge the Indian government’s nuclear policy, and other India-selling policies and programs. This government is working for foreign countries and their MNCs and they do not want the people of India to stand on their way.
3. How does Koodankulam challenge the State?
If we stop Koodankulam, the ruling class’s grandiose plans of buying American, French, South Korean and Japanese nuclear reactors, and buying Australian, Namibian and Kazakh Uranium will all collapse. They may lose millions and millions of dollars worth of commissions and kickbacks in this multi-billion dollar nuclear business. The Congress Party that has been plundering the country is eyeing on a huge sum from this business. They are worried and panicky.
4. How do people in Koodankulam perceive the sedition charges?
We do not take it seriously. Because the Congress Party would be thrown into the political dust bin in a few months and the AIADMK party’s prime ministerial ambitions and dreams will collapse so pathetically. And the people of Tamil Nadu and India will be reasserting our rights and entitlements soon. And we are also proud that we have been branded seditious by the corrupt and inefficient governments and politicians.
5. Is it the state abrogating its responsibilities or have the movements sought to expand the idea of citizenship?
The Indian State is not working for the people of India but for foreigners and their MNCs. So, the people of India are expanding the idea of citizenship; we are trying to prevent a recolonization effort of the Congress government, save our freedom and dignity, protect our natural resources, and to safeguard the interests of our children and their successive generations. To be an Indian today is to be in possession of India.
6. When corporations are being legally accommodated as ‘people’, why deny citizens rights to people?
Corporate ‘people’ give commissions and kickbacks, fund elections, hoard black money and do a whole lot. But citizens give nothing and demand everything.
7. Why challenging even ‘peaceful’ nuclear use becomes seditious? Why does nuclear issue continue to be at the core of nation-state?
‘Peaceful’ nuclear programs are strongly and closely connected with ‘warful’ (military) nuclear programs. The ‘power’ facade is to hide the ‘bomb’ crusade and to make India a Superpower like the United States. So we can fight America’s war in Asia with the rising China and the Islamic Pakistan, and enjoy peace and democracy like the poor and discriminated Americans do there in the United States. Nuclear is a new, clear trick of the United States to enslave Indians.
8. The PM, in his last Independence Day address, likened development as a ‘national security’ issue. Do you think the ruling class has acquired a military zeal for pushing the dominant development paradigm?
This is the most disastrous Prime Minister India has ever had and he would do anything to please his development masters. This is the same Prime Minister who publicly and shamelessly acknowledged in the Indian Parliament that 42 percent of our children are born malnourished and under-weight. This is the Prime Minister who has asked our people to shun agriculture and seek other jobs. In a country that has half of its population live with less than Rs. 20 a day and shit on railway tracks, development should be seen as a national security issue. But not in the way that this Prime Minister envisages! We should ask if development does not reach these poor people of India, how can there be national security for all of us?
9. The authorities have declared they will commission KKNPP-I on the Republic Day. What will the movement’s response?
Haven’t we seen so many such declarations, announcements and pronouncements? KKNPP-1 is still born and they may never commission it. The PMANE’s response, if they force-open KKNPP-2, would be to engage in a continuous and persistent nonviolent noncooperation campaign that highlights the immoralities and illegalities of the Indian State and its nuclear establishment. Like a macho and violent male chauvinist husband would flounder under the moral pressures of his battered wife’s nonviolent and non-cooperative opposition to his authoritarian ways and begin to behave properly, the Indian State would come around.
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KUDANKULAM ANTI-NUCLEAR SATYAGRAHA, INDIA: