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True Chingaris

By Anitha S

04 December, 2012

Dec 1st 2012- this day we are proud of ourselves. We have been referred to us as True Chingaris. We, the women involved in the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy which has been resisting the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant for many years and more vigorously since Aug 2011 are happy today. Happy inspite of the burning fact that our 3 friends- Sundari, Xavierammal and Selvi have been put back in jail with more charges of sedition and unlawfulness. Happy inspite if the burning uncertainity of our life and livelihood.

We celebrate this moment and this day because today our two sisters Rani Dasan and Thenmozhi Manickam are in Bhopal with the bold women who suffered the terrible gas leak more than 30 years ago and survived. The women of Bhopal who received the prestigious Goldman Prize in 2004 decided to share the money with women in different parts of India who have stood up for a cause and also utilize it for the treatment of children suffering the aftermath of the toxins released on that fateful night.

Today we know the real meaning of the word Chingari- a spark. We know that our questions and actions have sparked the beginning of a change in the blind acceptance of the nuclear agenda of our country. Our consistent and persistent struggle with just one simple demand- To stop the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant has crossed borders and boundaries. We along with many other communities in India where huge Nuclear Parks are being proposed or implemented are together in this fight for a safe, secure world. That is what makes us True Chingaris.

We hear that Dr. Vandana Shiva who handed over the “Chingari Award for Women Against Corporate Crime”to our friends said in her inimitable style:

“The Kudankulam struggle has emerged not merely as the most defining challenge to nuclear power in the country today but is also one of the strongest demonstrations of non-violent people's power. The role of the women in the struggle has been critical in ensuring that the energy of the fight remains undiminished. They are truly the ‘chingaris’ of the struggle and it is an honour to be able to present the award to them.”

Yes, we are extremely proud to hold the spark of resistance undiminished. We realize as days pass that our questions about justice, democracy, participation and truth all of which has been negated and ignored in the case of the multi crore KKNPP has made us criminals and seditionists. We have heard about the journalist and tribal activist Dayamani Barla who has also been unlawfully detained for raising some crucial questions. If this is the reason for keeping us in captivity, we would much rather remain so. If freedom is now allowed for those who have committed crimes, looted and killed then we would much rather be denied it.

Rani Dasan and Thenmozhi Manickam who received the award would have been really happy to stand along with Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla who said

“We feel honored to be able to stand in solidarity with the women of Idinthakarai. The Chingari Trust is for the 6th year running been able to shine the spotlight on brave women activists across the country fighting powerful vested interests at great risk to their lives. We also remember today the feisty Dayamani Barla a journalist and tribal activist, who was a recipient of this award in 2008 who is now imprisoned by the Madhya Pradesh government, in a blatant attempt to intimidate and repress a fight against land acquisition. We condemn this action of the state and call for her immediate release.”

The Chingari Award has empowered us more and strengthened our resolve to raise questions and demand answers This should lead to a just and unequivocal decision that will enhance our will to live peacefully by the sea shore pursuing livelihoods and also being participants in decision making that will bring the progress that we want.

( Anitha.S in conversation with women in Idinthakarai- 2nd December 2012)




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