[Koodankulam] Statement issued by human rights activists today about the Arrests of Satish kumar and Vanni Arasu

We, the undersigned would like to call attention to a news item that appeared in The Hindu, dated March 24, 2012. Titled, Youth Leader held on Sedition Charges, the report goes on to speak of Satish alias Satish Kumar (30), State Convenor of Tamilaga Ilaignar Ezuchi Pasarai being held on sedition charges.

We are astonished and shocked at this piece of news. Satish Kumar was indeed arrested on March 23, 2012, but according to information received by his family, he has been charged with Sections 143, 188 and 34 of the IPC, none of which has anything to do with ‘sedition’. Section 143 (Unlawful Assembly), Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
Satish Kumar was one amongst many hundreds who participated in a rally that was held in Tirunelveli on March 23. Many of the rallyists including MDMK leader Vaiko and Periyar DK leader Kolathur Mani, were arrested. While the others were released, Satish was not. Contrary to all established procedure he was arrested, kept in an unknown place for several hours and produced before a magistrate around midnight. He was subsequently remanded and lodged in Palayamkottai jail.
The news report however does not state any of this, and instead notes that he was apprehended in the district when he arrived there on Friday. The news report further notes that Satish Kumar is believed to be associated with the agitation against the Kudangulam Nuclear Power Plant. The report also quotes Tirunelveli Deputy Inspector General of Police V Varadaraju as saying that the ‘accused’ was involved in a case pertaining to the training of suspected Maoist cadres in 2002.

We are shocked that the actual details of the arrest are sought to be overwritten by statements that suggest Satish Kumar was engaged in seditious activity. We are particularly concerned that this is not the only instance where those who have protested against the Kudangulam plant are being subject to arbitrary arrests. Mukilan another anti-Kudankulam protester was arrested some days ago and Vanniarasu who was present at the March 23 rally was arrested subsequent to Satish Kumar’s arrest.

Given the nature of these arrests, we are forced to conclude that the police are engaged in weaving a conspiracy around the three arrested men with the intention of implicating them in false sedition charges. We also strongly condemn these and other attempts to malign and criminalise those who are engaged in a peaceful and legitimate struggle against the Kudangulam Nuclear Plant.

We demand that all three men be immediately released.

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