Rights of Indian People in Danger! Defend Democratic Rights!!

Jagadish G Chandra addressing the Protest

People’s Solidarity Concerns – Bangalore (which includes the New Socialist Alternative CWI-India) organized a meeting on 28th April followed by a protest at Town hall (well known protest point in Bangalore) on the theme of “Rights of Indian People in Danger”. Speakers included Abhay Sahoo (CPI leader and also leader of the anti-POSCO movement – PPSS), Leo Saldanha (Environmental Support Group), Balan from the AITUC (CPI affiliated union) and two women activists from the anti-Koodankulam struggle – Sundari and Xavieramma. The meeting was chaired by the noted documentary film-maker and radical activist – K P Sasi. The meeting was attended by more than 100 people.

The meeting began with a protest song by Sumathi (LesBIT) who had composed the song specially for the occasion. In his introductory remarks, K P Sasi spoke on the continued suppression and foisting of false cases most particularly on movements relating to Rights of Self Determination in Kashmir and the North East, against minorities in the garb of fighting terrorism and genuine people’s movements like anti-POSCO (Odisha) and the anti-Koodankulam struggle (Tamil Nadu). Particular mention was made with respect to the anti-Koodankulam struggle wherein a phenomenal 56,000 people have been charged with sedition for daring to protest against the Koodankulam nuclear plant at Idinthakaria.

Abhay Sahoo, who just completed his South India solidarity tour visiting Kerala and anti-Koodankulam struggle area in Tamil nadu, spoke of the need to unite all democratic pro-people’s movements in India to confront corporate capitalism. He spoke of the emergency like situation prevailing in much parts of India and situation in the anti-POSCO struggle area or in Kalinganagar where people have not seen the outside world for 7 years and 12 years respectively as they will be immediately arrested on false charges. Abhay Sahoo satirically thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for showing his special interest in trying to kickstart both the POSCO steel plant and Koodankulam nuclear power project, which have been made national headlines turning both S P Udayakumar (leader of PMANE) and Abhay Sahoo into people’s celebrities.

Leo Saldanha (an Environmental activist) spoke of the environmental impact of the POSCO project. He said that sand dunes in the coastal areas of Dhinkia and Gobindpur have acted as natural barriers against the devastating cyclones that have hit Orissa every 10-15 years. But POSCO project, that plans to do away with this whole unique natural ecosystems besides devastating people’s livelihoods, also has many other environmental risks attached to it. It also includes grabbing resources like land, water, mineral resources, besides the economics of the whole project which is completely unsustainable.

Sundari first of all said that the anti-Koodankulam struggle did not start 7-8 months as the media would like to project it, but has been going on for the last 20 years. She questioned all the false propaganda that is being hurled by the Indian ruling class against the movement from myths regarding the safety of the alleged safety of the Koodankulam reactors to the allegation of foreign funding of the protest. She specifically mentioned that that the struggle is not a Udayakumar’s or a Pushparayan’s struggle but a peoples’ struggle against such a destructive development. She also announced that protesters in Koodankulam will begin an indefinite hunger strike from 1st May onwards.

This speech was followed by an inspiring protest song by Xavieramma, who also hails from the same region. The final speech was made by Balan, the trade unionist from the AITUC, who spoke about the increasing corporate loot of natural resources and the need to oppose them. A financial collection of Rs. 2400 was raised at the meeting.

The meeting was followed by a protest at Town Hall where more than 100 people attended. The protest was addressed by Jagadish G Chandra (New Socialist Alternative CWI-India) and Abhay Sahoo. Inspiring protest songs were once again sung by Xavieramma and Sumathi. With slogans such as – Stop Koodankulam! Stop POSCO! Stop, Stop, Stop…..! – the protestors expressed their solidarity with all the peoples’ movement from across the country.