December 06, 2020
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Delegitimising Dissent

Eminent citizens, concerned about nuclear safety and the government’s campaign of slander against the Koodankulam anti-nuclear plant agitation in Tamil Nadu, speak up

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Delegitimising Dissent

We are dismayed and pained at the government’s campaign of vilification of the sustained popular movement against the Koodankulam nuclear plant, which has raised vital issues of atomic safety. These issues have assumed pivotal importance worldwide after the Fukushima disaster, the world’s first multiple-reactor meltdown. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has trivialised the movement, and the five months-long relay fast by thousands of people, by attributing it to “the foreign hand”, or Western non-governmental organisations, without citing even remotely credible evidence. This is part of a growing, dangerous, tendency to delegitimise dissent. If we reduce genuine differences and disagreements with official positions to mere plots of “subversion” by “the foreign hand”, there can be no real engagement with ideas, and no democratic debate through which divergences can be reconciled. Absence of debate on nuclear safety, itself a life-and-death matter, can only impoverish the public discourse and our democracy. The “foreign hand” charge sounds especially bizarre because the government has staked all on installing foreign-origin reactors and tried to dilute the nuclear liability Act under foreign pressure.

The claim that all is well with our expansion-oriented nuclear power programme sounds hollow in the absence of an independent, thorough, transparent review by a broadly representative body, which includes non-Department of Atomic Energy personnel and civil society representatives. Some of us called for this 10 months ago. But the government ignored our plea. Its attitude to nuclear hazards is worrisome given its abysmal and persistent failure to protect Indian citizens’ lives and rights in the Bhopal gas disaster.

We urge the government to cease harassment and persecution of activists of the anti-nuclear movements in Koodankulam and other sites, to drop concocted charges against them, and instead to resume dialogue. Until people’s fears and concerns are allayed, all nuclear power-plant construction must be halted. There must be no use of force—categorically, and regardless of the circumstances. Ramming nuclear plants down the throats of unwilling people will usher in a police state.

Achin Vanaik, Anil Chowdhary, Praful Bidwai, PK Sundaram

Abdul Raheem TM
Abhay Vir Singh
Ajay Kumar
Ajay Patnaik
Ajaya Kumar Singh, Bhubaneshwar
Alaka Basu
Ali Javed
Amar Jesani, Editor, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics
Amartya Paul
Amit Bhaduri
Amita Baviskar
Ammu Joseph
Anil Sadgopal
Anuradha Chenoy
Arun Mitra
Aruna Rodrigues, Bangalore
Arundhati Roy
Ashis Nandy
B K Pal
B N Thakur
Bindu Desai
Capt. J. Rama Rao, Hyderabad
Chaitali Bhowmick
D Sucharitha
Deepa Dhanraj
Deepak Nayyar
Dinesh Abrol
Dipankar Gupta
DR. EAS Sharma,
Elisa Morsicain
Gabriele Dietrich
Gargi Chakravorthy
Gauhar Raza
Harsh Mander
Himanshu Thakkar
Imrana Qadeer
Janaki Nair
Jaya Mehta
Jayati Ghosh
Justice B G Kolse-Patil
Justice H. Suresh
Kamal Mitra Chenoy
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Kumkum Roy
L S Chawla
Lakshmi Kutty
Lata Mani
M G Devasahayam
M V Ramana
Maj Gen. S G Vombatkere
Mary John
Meenakshi Ganguly
Meha Dixit
Meher Engineer, Kolkata
Mili Sahu
Minati Panda
Mira Shiva
Moggallan Bharti
Mohan Rao
Muhammed Muhassin
Mukul Kesavan
Mukul Sharma
Nabita Baruah
Nandini Gooptu
Nandini Sundar
Navroze Contractor
Neeladri Bhattacharya
Nirupam Sen
P M Bharagava
Pijush Kanti Das
Pooja Ravi
Prashant Bhushan
Pratihar Sharma
Rajaneesh S R
Rajesh Tandon
Ram Manohan Reddy
Ramchandra Guha
Ramila Bisht
Rupa Chawdhary
S Alok Kumar
S N Malakar
S P Shukla
Sankar Narayan
Seema Mustafa
Shabnam Hashmi
Shankar Sharma
Shripad Dharmadhikari
Shruti Dubey
Shruti Jain
Soumya Rajan
Sudhir Chella Rajan
Sumit Sarkar
Supriya Varma
Susan Visvanathan
Suvrat Raju
Swathi S Senan
Tanika Sarkar
Uma V Chandru
Umasankar Behera
V K Yadavendu
Vineet Tiwari
Vineeta Bal
Vinod Koshti
Vivek Sundara
Zoya Hasan

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