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TN police shoot dead anti-nuclear protester

As the protest against Kudankulam nuclear power project increased in intensity on Monday, the central government and the Tamil Nadu government launched physical and verbal attacks on the protesters.

A fisherman was killed in firing on the anti-nuclear protesters at a coastal village in Tuticorin district while they clashed with the police near the Kudankulam plant, torching local administrative offices. The police said that a 44-year old fisherman was killed when it opened fire at a group of people which clashed with them while blocking a road in the Manapad coastal village as the protest spilled to the neighbouring Tuticorin district.

In New Delhi, the government took a cue from what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said about these protesters a few weeks back and accused some foreign NGOs of instigating them.

'Foreign NGOs are supporting the movement. We are aware about the NGOs which are behind it,' the union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters. He said that the government was very clear as far as nuclear energy was concerned and wanted it to be produced in India as it was cheap and clean.

In February, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had blamed some US-based NGOs for putting difficulties in launching the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. The government had also probed fundings of around 13 Indian voluntary organisations which were part of the protest movement in Kudankulam.

Opposing the loading of uranium in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district – the focal point of agitation for the last two days – over 2,000 protesters fought pitched battles with the police, throwing stones and logs. The police resorted to cane charge and burst teargas shells to disperse them.

The police action came after authorities failed to persuade the protesters, who, for the second day on Monday, defied prohibitory orders and stayed put at the seashore, about 500 metres away from the Kudankulam plant.

Sporadic violence then followed as enraged groups of protesters set fire to a local panchayat office, the Village Administrative Officer's office and a state-run liquor retail shop in Kudankulam, in an ugly turn to the over year-long peaceful protest.

The protest spilled into Tuticorin where about 500 people stopped a train for some time by squatting on track. The protestors also blocked Tuticorin-Nagercoil highway.

In Chennai, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa reviewed the situation with DGP K Ramanujam.

Around 4,000 security personnel, including Rapid Action Force, have been deployed in the area.

The first unit of the power project was scheduled for commissioning in last December, but ran into rough weather with the locals demanding its scrapping on safety concerns.
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