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Sep 10, 2012 at 08:33pm IST

Kudankulam: 1 fisherman dies in police firing

Kudankulam: One fisherman was killed as police opened fire to control the anti-nuclear power plant protesters in Kudankulam on Monday. Police opened fire in the evening following day-long clashes in the area between the fishermen and the police force.

The police charged at the protestors after they set on fire a house in the area. The protestors also blocked the Tuticorin-Nagercoil highway and tried to stop the Mysore Express train at Tuticorin railway station.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the family of the fisherman who was shot dead.

Jayalalithaa also released a statement asking the fishermen to not fall prey to the anti-Kudankulam lobby. She further appealed to them to not indulge in protests and violence against the plant.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also backed the police saying the policemen had to use tear gas and force to disperse crowd for self defence, adding that the nuclear plant was safe.

Earlier the police moved in to chase the protesters at Kudankulam and fired tear gas shells. Thousands of protesters fled towards the ocean and threw slippers, shoes and small stones at the police force.

After the protesters were sandwiched between the police force of one side and the ocean on the other side, several of them started to throw sand as they were left with nothing to fight back with.

A few of the protesters were seen fleeing using boats while others were standing waist deep in the water even as several of them fought a pitched battle with the police force.

Police blocked hundreds of villagers who were attempting to march to the plant in order to protest the loading of fuel in the coming days.

The situation in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is tense as locals renewed their agitation in a big way against the nuclear plant on Sunday. After being stopped by the police, the villagers planned to take the coastal route to lay siege to the plant.

Over 1,000 anti-nuclear protesters led by People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy convener S P Udayakumar tried to march towards the plant but were prevented from proceeding by Rapid Action Force personnel and police, half a kilometre from the site, police said.

Officials said District Collector R Selvaraj and Sub-Collector Rohini Ramdoss and District Superintendent of Police V Bidari held talks with the protestors to persuade them.

The police asked the crowd to disperse but the crowd was not ready to budge until their demands were met. Activist Udayakumar said, "We are appealing to the government of Tamil Nadu and the government of India to respect the local people's sentiments and abandon the whole project. We will not engage in any kind of violent activity."

As prohibitory orders are in place, the police say any protest, even a peaceful one would be unlawful. But efforts to initiate talks have borne no fruit.

Locals have upped the ante even as the first reactor at the plant is all set to be loaded with uranium fuel. Officials have told CNN-IBN that Atomic Energy Regulatory Board authorities will visit the plant next week to give the final approval. With the Madras High Court also giving its nod to the plant, for the protesters it's a now or never battle.