Local filmmaker David Bradbury was detained by police near a nuclear power plant on the southernmost tip of India on Friday afternoon. Police did not arrest Mr Bradbury but asked him to leave the district.
Mr Bradbury was travelling to the village of Idinthakari, near the nuclear power plant, with his partner Treena Lenthall and three-year-old son Omar. The area is under lockdown under section 144 of India’s security act, following protests and blockades at the reactor, and the anti-uranium protester and documentary maker wanted to see conditions for himself.
He told Echonetdaily last night their auto-rickshaw driver got a phone call on his mobile phone as the trio left Kundakalum, just 3km from their destination of Indinthakarai.
‘The cops told him to pull over and not take us any further. We tried desperately to hail down some fish trucks returning, a kid on a motorbike but to no avail as a plainclothes cop on a motorbike shooed them off.
‘Two carloads of police then arrived and escorted us back to Kundakalum police station. There a deputy supt NK Stanley Jones, with a big handlebar moustache that Jimmy Edwards would have been proud of, grilled us. He told us that under section 144 the area was a “prohibited zone” and we could not enter – for our own safety. It sounded suspiciously like the pretext South Australian cops used to corral and force into submission peaceful protestors at Lizard’s Revenge in July that we also attended.’
Mr Bradbury said, ‘the local humble fisher folk have carried out very imaginative and determined protests ever since the Russians started building two nuke plants here ten years ago. The opposition has not faltered since the first suggestion was made in 1988 to give the green light.
‘The police have laid siege to the seaside village and [the protesters] have been on rolling fasts and protests unstopped for the last 429 days. [Protesters include] kids, mums and dads, with mostly women leading the struggle.
‘They know post-Fukushima that the plants if opened and operational can end up like that. They were on the receiving end of the Boxing Day tsunami, which wiped away the lives of 1,800 people where they live. They know another tsunami could hit their coast and start the chain reaction that sophisticated Japanese technology could not defend. The “safe” zone surrounding the plant has been reduced back and back to being within 1.5km of the nearest village.’
Fact-finding team intimidated
Greens nuclear policy spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said he will raise the matter with the Indian ambassador.
‘On October 12 an All India Fact Finding team of about 12 people was intercepted on route to Idinthakarai, interrogated and remanded in Tirunelveli Jail. This is part of a pattern of intimidation to silence dissent,’ he said.
‘Recently at the site of a nuclear reactor in Kudankulam police have used brutal tactics against tens of thousands of peaceful protesters. Two people have been shot dead by police, most recently Mr Anthony Samy in September. There have been at least five deaths in the struggles against Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), and Gorakhpur (Haryana) nuclear power plants since 2010.’
Senator Ludlam urged PM Gillard to reconsider the government’s decision to sell uranium to India.
‘Last month, Comptroller and Auditor-General Vinod Rai’s damning report on nuclear regulation in India highlighted a series of grave organisational and operational flaws, and raised serious concerns about the lack of independence of the Regulation Board.
‘India was ranked 28th out of 32 countries in terms of the security of their nuclear stockpiles, and Delhi refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The case against selling uranium to India is undeniable.’
David Bradbury with his son Omar emerging from the Kudankulam police station. Photo Treena Lenthall