It’s almost noon in the fishing hamlet of Kootapuli near the Kudankulam nuclear power station and Dani (27) along with his friend Anton is busy rolling up the fishing net after returning with a bountiful catch from the Bay of Bengal. A request to click his photograph riles Dani and he promptly admonishes the idea with a hint of aggression.”This is what the police did. They went through photographs of the protesters on Facebook and newspapers. The next thing I found was that there were cases like sedition and looting against me. I want to work abroad and now I can’t get a police clearance for my passport. So no photographs, please,” exclaims Dani.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2012, Dani was one of the estimated 7,000 villagers, mostly fisherfolk, who were charged with sedition and waging war against the state. dna traveled to the villages of Idinthakarai, Kootapuli, Perumanal and Vairavikinaru, which were the hotbed of protests against the nuclear plant. People charged with sedition included elderly men, housewives and some who were not present in the protests. In 2013, after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the state government to withdraw sedition and criminal cases against people, many were withdrawn. From around 7,000 people, 21 still continue to face sedition charges.Sitting on the beach at Kootapuli, working his fishing nets is Thirikudumbam (54). It is unusual that a man of his age and demeanour could wage war against India. “I was in the third row of protestors gathered to prevent the police from entering our village. They arrested my father and when I saw that I told them to arrest me also. They locked us up for 25 days. Both I and my father still have multiple cases against us. I requested a policeman to withdraw cases against my elderly father. He told me that these cases would be required to prevent us from protesting again in the future,” says Thirikudumbam.Lissi (35), a mother of three, was one of the several women who were picked up and charged for various crimes. She narrates a similar story, “We were all gathered in a peaceful march. There was no violence. It was the police that kicked and lathi charged us. I was locked up for 14 days in Tiruchirapalli jail. They came looking for my brother after my release. They took his passport and threw it in the sea,” says Lissi.A short drive on the windmill-dotted road from Kootapuli leads to Idinthakarai, the focal point of the 2012 protests – where people had descended on boats when roads were blocked by police personnel to restrict movement towards Kudankulam.Hariharan (25), a broad-shouldered, barrel-chested mechanical engineer-turned fisherman was one of the many residents of Idinthakarai charged with sedition. “I wasn’t even part of the protest. I didn’t even know there was a case against me till I applied for a passport. I was told during police verification that there were several cases pending against me,” says Hariharan. Interestingly, Hariharan was charged with sedition because his father was part of the protest. His father was arrested along with several others from Idinthakarai and similarly charged. Hariharan asked the police why he was charged when he wasn’t even present. They told him that he was found to have dug up roads, destroyed public property and instigated violence.The inability to get a passport cost Hariharan a job at the Reliance refinery in Jamnagar, Gujarat. With little option, the mechanical engineer was forced to go back to his village and revert to fishing. He cancelled his passport application made in 2012 and reapplied in 2014. When the time for police verification came, he was told there were still two cases pending against him. “I have hired a lawyer and will battle this out in court,” says Hariharan.While the drama unfolding in Idinthakarai was broadcast live on television, very little is known about what transpired in the nearby village of Vairavikinaru. Around 43 people were rounded up, many charged with sedition.Kumar (39), a truck driver, was charged with sedition and under the equally notorious Goondas Act, a law meant to rein in drug smugglers, mobsters, pimps and bootleggers. The cases against Kumar are still pending.”The police came from everywhere. They ransacked my house. They thrashed the men mercilessly. There was no lady officer. The men spoke in dirty language to threaten me and my children. My husband was picked up and jailed for 6 months,” narrates his wife, Ambika. With the family’s breadwinner in jail, Ambika relied on her neighbours’ assistance to feed and educate her children.Asked if she would file a case against the state government for wrongfully framing her husband under one of India’s strictest laws, Ambika says, “We are illiterate people. We cannot afford to be harassed by the police and the government again.”

Originally from: 

Here, seditionists include a homemaker, an engineer and a fisherman