கிருத்துவ பிஷப்புகள் பலகுரல்களில் பேசுவது: கூடங்குள நாடகம் (1)!

கிருத்துவ பிஷப்புகள் பலகுரல்களில் பேசுவது: கூடங்குள நாடகம் (1)!


கணக்கு, தணிக்கை என்றதுமே ஆடிப்போன கிருத்துவர்கள்: வரவு, செலவு, கணக்கு, தணிக்கை என்றதுமே, சர்ச்சுகள் பயந்து விட்டன. இவான் அம்ப்ரோஸ் நடத்தும் இரண்டு நிறுவனங்கள் அமெரிக்கா உட்பட ரூ. 54 கோடி பணம் பெற்றது தெரிய வந்துது[1]. இதெல்லாம் சோனியா மெய்னோ கிருத்துவர்களுக்கு எதிராக எடுக்கும் நடவடிக்கை அல்ல. ஆனால், கிருத்துவர்களுக்கிடையில் நடக்கும் நாடகம்[2]. இதனை முன்பே எடுத்துக் காட்டியாகி விட்டது[3]. இல்லையென்றால், சோனியாவின் வருவாய் பற்றி கேட்க உதயகுமாருக்கு தைரியம் வராது[4]. பிரதமர் மீது வழக்குப் போடுவேன் என்று மிரட்ட முடியாது. இப்படி பல விஷயங்கள் அநாவசியமாக வெளிவருவதை கிருத்துவர்கள் விரும்பவில்லை.

பங்குத் தந்தைகளிடம் பங்குக் கேட்பார்கள் கிருத்துவர்கள்: முன்பெல்லாம், சர்ச்சுகள் / கிருத்துவர்கள் கோடிகளில் பணத்தைப் பெறுகிறார்கள் என்றுதான் சொல்வார்கள், ஆனால், இப்பொழுது அப்படி கோடிகளில் இன்னார்-இன்னார்களிடமிருந்து இவ்வளவு பெற்றனர் என்பதும், மற்றவர்கள் கணக்குக் கேட்கத்தான் செய்வார்கள். இப்பொழுது கார்டினல்கள், பிரஷப்புகள், பாஸ்டர்கள், கிருத்துவ சாமியார்கள், கிருத்துவ ஐயர்கள், கிருத்துவ முதலியார்கள்  முதலியொர் அவ்வளவு அள்ளுகின்றனர், அமுக்குகின்றனர் என்பது தெரிந்து விடும். இங்கு தமிழகத்தில் கிருத்துவ மீனவர்களை வைத்துக் கொண்டு கிறுத்துவர்கள் நாடகம் போடுகிறார்கள். ஆனால், கிருத்துவ மீனவர்களை, இத்தாலியக் கிருத்துவர்களே சுட்டுக் கொன்றபோது, வாடிகன் முதல் நமது உள்ளூர் பிஷப் வரை வக்காலத்து வாங்கி பேசுகிறார்கள்[5]. அங்கு வாடிகனின் அப்பட்டமான தலையீடு வெளிப்படுகிறது. இதே மமதை, ஆணவம், கொழுப்பு, திமிர் முதலியவை சின்னப்பாவின் வார்த்தைகளிலும் வெளிப்படுகின்றன, “இதை தவிர்த்து, நாட்டு மக்களை அரசு தவறான வழியில் திசைதிருப்பும் வகையில் தேசிய மற்றும் பொதுநலனுக்கு எதிராக வெளிநாட்டு சக்திகளுடன் இணைந்து திருச்சபை செயல்படுகிறது என்றும், தூத்துக்குடி மறைமாவட்ட அமைப்பு வெளிநாட்டில் இருந்து வந்த பணத்தை யாருக்கும் சொல்லாமல் வேறு பயன்பாட்டிற்கு மாற்றி இருக்கிறது என்றும் சொல்வது விஷமத்தனமானது. இந்த குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை வன்மையாக கண்டிக்கிறோம்”.

பல பிஷப்புகள் கூடங்குள விவாகாரத்தில் எதிர்ப்பாளிகளை ஆதரித்துப் பேசுவது ஏன்: ஏ. எம். அருளப்பா (சென்னை), யுவான் ஆம்புரோஸ் (தூத்துக்குடி), வின்சென்ட் எம். கன்செஸ்ஸியோ (தில்லி) என்று பலர்[6] வக்காலத்து வாங்கி பேசுவது ஆச்சரியமாக இருக்கிறது. ஏற்கெனெவே அனைத்துலக ரீதியில், கிருத்துவர்கள் நடத்தி வரும் இந்த எதிர்ப்புப் போராட்டத்தை சந்தோஷமாக ஆதரித்தும், பணவுதவி செய்தும் மற்ற சர்ச்சுகள் செய்திகளை வெளிப்படையாக வெளியிட்டுள்ளன.

இருகுரலில் பேசும் வேடதாரி கிருத்துவ பிஷப்புகள்: தமிழக பிஷப் கவுன்சில், இப்படி மத்திய அரசு கிருத்துவர்களுக்கு எதிராக செயல்படுகிறது என்று ஒப்பாரி வைக்கும் நேரத்தில், மற்ற பிஷப்புகள் மத்திய யு.பி.ஏ. அரசு அவ்வாறு செயல்படவில்லை என்று விளக்கம் அளித்துள்ளார்கள்:

  • ஜி. தெய்வசகாயம் என்ற சி.எஸ்.ஐ. பிஷப் அம்மாதிரி ஒன்றும் தொந்தரவு செய்யவில்லை என்று சொல்லியுள்ளார்[7]. “நாங்களும் தான் தர்ம காரியங்களை செய்து வருகிறோம். ஆனால், அரசு எங்கள் மீது எந்த விதமான அழுத்தத்தை ஏற்படுத்துவதில்லை. நாங்கள் இப்போராட்டத்தில் குறிப்பிட்ட நிலயை எடுத்துக் கொள்ளவில்லை”.
  • ஜெபசந்திரன் என்ற எவாஞ்செலிகல் சர்ச் ஆப் இந்தியா (Head of the Evangelical Church of India) பேசும்போது, “அவர்கள் அந்நிய நாட்டு பணத்தை உபயோகிக்கக் கூடாது. தணிக்கைக்கள் உள்ளன. ஆகையால் அயல்நாட்டுப் பணத்தை அவர்கள் எதிர்பார்க்கக் கூடாது. நாங்கள் தார்மீக ரீதியில் அவர்களுக்கு ஆதரவு கொடுக்கிறோம்”, என்று விளக்கம் அளித்தார்.
  • மற்றொரு பிஷப் எஸ்ரா சர்குணம்  (Bishop Ezra Sargunam ), பேசும்போது, ”யு.பி.ஏ. அரசு கிருத்துவர்களுக்கு எதிராக செயல்படுகிறது, அவர்களைத் துன்புறுத்துகிறது என்றெல்லாம் சொல்ல முடியாது. உண்மையில் அது சிறுபான்மையினருக்கு பல சலுகைகளை அளிக்க முயற்ச்சிகளை மேற்கொண்டு வருகிறது. அதே நேரத்தில் கிருத்துவர்கள் அந்நியபணத்தை சரியான முறையில் பயன்படுத்துவதில்லை என்பதையும் நம்பவில்லை”, என்று தனது கருத்தை வெளியிட்டுள்ளார். இந்த எஸ்ரா சற்குணம் மிகவும் பலமானர் மற்றும் சட்டங்களை மதிக்காமல் செயல் படுவதிலும் வல்லவர்[8].

கூடங்குளம் போராட்டத்தை மைய்யமாக வைத்து கிறிஸ்தவர்களை இழிவுபடுத்துகிறது மத்திய அரசு-பிஷப் சின்னப்பா[9]: கூடங்குளத்தில் நடந்து வருவது மக்களின் போராட்டம். அதில் கிறிஸ்தவ அமைப்புகளுக்கு எந்தவிதமான தொடர்பும்

இந்த சின்னப்பாவே பற்பல வழக்குகளில் சிக்கியுள்ளார். இதைப் பற்றி கேட்க வந்த. நிருபரை பூட்டி வைத்து அடித்துள்ளார்[10]. ஒரு ஆசிரியையை பதவி உயர்வு கொடுக்காமல் சதாய்த்த வழக்கு நிலுவையில் உள்ளது. இதைத்தவிர, கோடிக்கணக்கில் நில அபகரிப்பு வழக்கும் நிலுவயில் உள்ளது.[11]

இல்லை. அது கிறிஸ்தவர்களின் போராட்டமும் அல்ல. ஆனால் இந்தப் பிரச்சினையை வைத்து சிறுபான்மை கிறிஸ்தவ மக்களை மத்திய அரசு இழிவுபடுத்துகிறது என்று கிறிஸ்தவப் பேராயர்கள் கூறியுள்ளனர். இதுகுறித்து தமிழக ஆயர் பேரவை தலைவரும், சென்னை மயிலை மறை மாவட்ட பேராயருமான சின்னப்பா, தூத்துக்குடி பேராயர் இவான் அம்புரோஸ் ஆகியோர் சென்னையில் செய்தியாளர்களிடம் வியாழக்கிழமை பேசினர். அப்போது அவர்கள் கூறுகையில், தூத்துக்குடி மறைமாவட்ட சங்கமும், தூத்துக்குடி மறைமாவட்ட பல்நோக்கு சமூக சேவை சங்கமும் சாதி, மத பாகுபாடு இன்றி பல்வேறு சமுதாய பணிகளில் ஈடுபட்டு வருகின்றன. இவற்றுக்கு வரும் நிதி எவ்வாறு செலவு செய்யப்படுகிறது? என்று கடந்த ஆண்டு நவம்பர் மாதம் 32 கேள்விகள் அடங்கிய ஒரு விளக்கத்தை மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சக அதிகாரிகள் கேட்டிருந்தனர். நாங்கள் அதற்கு பதில் அனுப்பினோம். பின்னர் நேரடியாக வந்து ஆய்வு செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று தெரிவித்தார்கள்.

வேதபிரகாஷ்
10-02-2012


[7] Times of India, Church divided on govt action against N-stir, Karthick S, TNN | Mar 10, 2012, 01.21AM IST, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Church-divided-on-govt-action-against-N-stir/articleshow/12203039.cms

[8] M. Ezra Sargunam, Multiplying Churches in India: An Experiment in Madras, Federation of Evangelical Churches of India, 1974, Madras, pp141-142.

https://christianityindia.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/nothing-illegal-in-encroaching-land-for-church/

[9] ஒன்-இந்தியா-தமிழ், கூடங்குளம் போராட்டத்தை மைய்மாக வைத்து கிறிஸ்தவர்களை இழிவுபடுத்துகிறது மத்திய அரசு-பிஷப் சின்னப்பா. வெள்ளிக்கிழமை, மார்ச் 9, 2012, 8:56 [IST]

http://tamil.oneindia.in/news/2012/03/09/tamilnadu-centre-harassing-christians-archbishop-am-chinnappa-aid0091.html

[10] வேதபிரகாஷ், பத்திரிக்கையாளர்கள்தாக்குதலில் சென்னை பாதிரியார்கள் –பிஷப்பும் உடந்தையா?!, https://christianityindia.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/பத்திரிக்கையாளர்கள்-தாக/

தினகரன், பிஷப்ஹவுசில்வைத்துதாக்கியதுஏன்?, 15-09 2010, http://www.dinakaran.com/LN/latest-breaking-news.aspx?id=6835

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7 பதில்கள் to “கிருத்துவ பிஷப்புகள் பலகுரல்களில் பேசுவது: கூடங்குள நாடகம் (1)!”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    கிருத்துவ பாதிரிகள், பிஷப்புகள் எப்படி பணம் பண்ணுகிறார்கள், மக்களை முட்டாள்களாக்குகிறார்கள் என்பதை இக்கட்டுரை விளக்குகிறாது.An ongoing tragedy

    R. KRISHNAKUMAR in Kanyakumari
    Frontline, Volume 22 – Issue 03, Jan. 29 – Feb 11, 2005
    India’s National Magazine
    from the publishers of THE HINDU
    http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2203/stories/20050211006000900.htm

    The tsunami is only the latest woe in the lives of fishermen in Kanyakumari and nearby areas. The vice-like grip that traders, moneylenders and other vested interests have on these people have always kept them downtrodden and powerless.

    PICTURES: S. GOPAKUMAR

    Damaged trawlers at Chinnamuttom in Kanyakumari.
    “WHAT do outsiders know of our lives? It is not just the tsunami. It is not just the relief efforts. They are not our only worries,” Thomai Paul kept telling inquiring visitors at Chinnamuttom, the only fishing village with a breakwater and a calm harbour in the southern rough-sea district of Kanyakumari in tsunami-ravaged Tamil Nadu.

    His concern was understandable. Thomai was one among the thousands of poor, invisible people in India’s coastal villages unexpectedly thrown into the glare of publicity by the `harbour wave’ disaster of December 26. In the weeks after that, he and his mates were repeatedly questioned about how the tsunami came to his boatyard and the immediate relief efforts, but the visitors who appeared every other day were seemingly oblivious to their dismal life and countless other concerns.

    Thomai is 57 years old – “too old”, he said, for the characteristic sharp wind and the choppy sea during most parts of the year in his native village. He fishes with mates who own catamarans during the easy-weather season, and finds odd jobs at the harbour the rest of the year. His family of four has been forced to subsist on the income brought home mostly during the flush months. His wife and daughter are unemployed, his son is still in school.

    A family rebuilds its home at Koottilpadi, one of the worst-affected villages in Kanyakumari district, three weeks after the tsunami.
    Nearly a month after the tsunami, the east-coast harbour at Chinnamuttom where nearly 4,000 tonnes of fish and marine products used to land every other day providing employment to over 15,000 people either directly or in ancillary jobs, was deserted, but for a handful of officials and scientists. The majority of the 350 mechanised mini-trawlers at the breakwater-calmed harbour either were damaged or have been lying idle ever since December 26. The catamarans have all been washed away. Boats, each costing Rs.15-25 lakhs, “uninsured and mostly under joint ownership”, have been tied close to each other and left to rot until “the government decides on appropriate compensation for the boat-owners”. The local fishworkers have no work, no pay, no alternative occupations and perhaps, no `life’ as well until then. “You would understand what such damage does to poor people like me, perhaps. But you will never be able to imagine what a disaster our lives have been even otherwise,” Thomai told Frontline.

    In a sense, ordinary fishworkers like Thomai have become distressing reality-clichés in coastal India, continuing to remain poor, naïve, unseen and puzzled at the contradictions thrown at them by mainstream society’s incursions into their traditional domains. The growing affluence all around, especially of the moneylenders, merchants, big-boat owners and exporter traders who prosper from their misery, and the high tourism ratings that their villages continue to gain, are to them a cruel joke amidst the gloomy realities of fast-paced industrialisation of the fisheries sector, over-fishing and depletion of the oceans, and their ever-growing indebtedness and marginalisation.

    Yet, perhaps, in other parts of the same district, along a 60-km coastline facing the western sea where people in the nearly 40 villages have been clamouring for years even for mini-harbours and breakwaters, Thomai and his friends would, in comparison, be considered a fortunate lot.

    THE sea is not kind to the fishermen in the Land’s End district of India and for most part of the year the coast is characterised by high winds and volatile surf conditions, which make it impossible for fishermen to launch their craft. Kanyakumari has the largest number of fishermen in Tamil Nadu, for example, but the district has just one mini-harbour, the one at Chinnamuttom, which local fishermen have been guarding zealously as their exclusive preserve.

    The new bridge across the Pazhyaar estuary at Manakkudi village, which was destroyed by the tsunami.
    Fishermen from the western coast of the district are hence forced to live as unwelcome itinerant “gypsies” in search of favourable fishing grounds as far away as Rameswaram in the eastern coast of the State on one side and Vizhinjam, Kollam, Kochi and Mangalore along the Kerala-Karnataka coast. “It is a neglected region where people have been clamouring for harbours and breakwaters but the government has consistently turned a deaf ear to our demands. Fishing is the only vocation we know and we cannot launch our boats from our neighbourhood during most months of the year. So we beg and borrow, and leave, sometimes with our families, to other centres where local fishermen hate to accommodate us,” K. Alexander, a fisherman at Melemanakkudi village and former vice-president of the Kanyakumari Fishermen’s Federation, said.

    According to G. Celestine, president of the Kanyakumari Mavatta Meen Thozhilali Sangham, during the rough-sea season, it is a “strange sight” to see fish traders from nearby districts of Tamil Nadu making a profit even out of the very unfortunate situation. “The fishermen of Kanyakumari are a highly skilled lot but most of them are deep in debt with diminishing returns from the sea perhaps because of a lavish way of life. The traders from fishing centres like Ramanathapuram, Mandapam and Puthukkottai therefore lure them with advances ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.50,000 and transport them en masse with families and catamarans to safer fishing grounds. There the traders would have appointed agents who “protect” them from local fishermen and rowdies, and offer them safe transit centres. In return the fishermen will have to surrender the entire catch to the traders on landing at prices decided by the traders,” Celestine said.

    Such exploitation is not confined to fishermen going to alien fishing centres alone. All along the coastal district Frontline heard stranger-than-fiction tales of extortion and exploitation of the mass of fishermen by moneylenders, traders and merchants. In some villages, fishermen have no other go but to raise funds for building catamarans and buying nets and outboard engines from moneylenders on the promise that the catch would be surrendered to the traders at prices fixed by them. There is no system of auction in some villages. In others like Chinnamuttom, the traders and merchants corner the entire catch from boats on landing, but settle the account only after the fish is sold – the traders or the moneylenders are thus assured of a profit while the fishermen always stand to lose.

    EVEN in the best of seasons which lasts barely a few months in a year, in their own native villages, an ordinary fishworker in a mechanised boat cannot hope to get more than Rs.1,000 a day when the catch is good. With the income from a few months’ work, he is forced to provide for his family for the rest of the year. A mechanised boat ordinarily would have about eight to ten workers but 60 to 65 per cent of the sales proceeds (after deducting expenses including that for fuel) would go to the owner. The rest is shared equally among the workers. According to Alexander, in addition, each worker would be entitled to a batta of Rs.50 every day and most often, with the dwindling marine resources, that is all the money a worker would get from a trip during the off-season.

    A trip in a catamaran, where the sharing system is more democratic, would fetch each of the three or four rowers Rs.100 to Rs.150, according N. Anthony, a panchayat member from the fishing village (thurai) of Rajakkmangalam. The rough seas make those above the age of 40 unfit to venture out to sea and for such men the coast provides few income-generating opportunities. At best they make about Rs.20 to Rs.30 on some days when they help to mend a net or push a canoe out, he said.

    Studies have indicated that ownership of boats is concentrated in fewer hands than is generally believed. Celestine said that in some of the major fishing centres in the district, like Chinnamuttom, there are moneylenders who have advanced funds for as many as a hundred mechanised boats and informally hold a claim to almost all the fish catch from these vessels. In addition, there are clear signs that the fish trade in coastal Tamil Nadu is being increasingly controlled by a handful of powerful individuals, companies or their benami agents. Even innocuous landing centres along the coast are under the thumb of commission agents appointed by these individuals who literally dictate the price of marine products that come in, by controlling the auction mechanism or by demanding the entire catch for the funds already advanced. “Traders from other centres are scared away by these agents by quoting exorbitant auction rates. The toiling fishermen stand to lose as the agents then buy at sharply reduced rates once the competition is driven away,” he said.

    Alexander said that the traders who transported fishermen’s families from the south to places in the north such as Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin, Mandapam or Puthukkottai themselves appointed rowdies to create an impression among the poor fishermen that they were constantly under threat from local vested interests and would always need protection if they were to survive the hard months in an alien land. Indeed, some fishermen told Frontline that they could not survive in the northern districts without the protection of the traders. “With the fish resources dwindling by the day, going to Kerala, which was always a better option, is also becoming an unpalatable one, with the fishermen from Tamil Nadu having to face constant threats, insults and abuses. Moreover, the restrictions on people from other States fishing in Kerala’s shores, too, are increasing,” Anthony said.

    Each village along the coast had a variation of the same story to narrate. At Thoothoor, the village of shark fishermen, known the world over for their felicity in deep-sea shark hunting using manual hooks and line, merchants are again the key players. There are over 800 small mechanised boats in the village, about 15 to 20 of them under the control of a single merchant who advances money to the fishermen, “binding them to the catch”, and moves with them from port to port.

    According to M. Selvaraj, a fishermen’s leader from Kottilpady, where nearly 200 people died in the tsunami, catamaran and outboard motor (OBM) boat operators cannot generally afford the high rates of interest of the moneylenders but are “invariably trapped by the layers of traders who have joined the lucrative business to the detriment of the sons of the sea”. The people of the coast are in the clutches of these traders, the smaller ones sell to the bigger ones and so on and the supply chain goes up, all of them betraying the fisherfolk,” he said. “We shall never be able to sell independently because it is a business after all; we shall never be able to compete with the money power of the merchants and their middlemen.”

    With the taking over of the coastal fish trade by the big merchants and moneylenders, a significant trend in the fishing villages is the displacement of women, who have been forced out of their tradition-bound coastal homes by poverty and increasing indebtedness to involve themselves in the marketing of fish. According to fishermen in the villages of Melemanakkudi and Colachal, women involved in fish marketing are almost always the older ones, widows or destitutes, and they face the stigma of being in a vocation considered an inferior one by the highly rigid coastal village societies. “These women continuously face problems of working capital at affordable interest rates and lack of access even to fish-landing centres, which are dominated by the big traders,” Alexander said. With the introduction of newer varieties of gear and craft, women and older men who used to find ancillary jobs on the coast in the traditional fishing networks are increasingly finding these sources of meagre revenue too drying up.

    Soosai Antony, a social worker based in Rajakkmangalam Thurai who has been actively campaigning for the construction of breakwaters and mini-fishing harbours at the main landing centres, told Frontline that the exploitation had been encouraged to a large extent by the reluctance of nationalised banks to advance funds to fishermen. “Though we have been trying hard to make bank officials understand the need for more lending to fishermen, they have blocked all our efforts saying that fishermen with their financial woes would not be able to repay the huge amounts that they require as advance. I think a serious inquiry would bring out the lie in these biased beliefs,” he said.

    IN most of the coastal hamlets that Frontline visited, young fisherfolk said that they had stopped going to school in order to learn the trade of their forefathers and to help their families. Though there were notable exceptions in some villages, several fishermen said they had studied only up to the sixth standard. Bergman Selvaraj, a young fisherman in the thoroughly devastated Melemanakkudi village, said that he stopped going to school after the sixth standard because his peers who had further education were “roaming around in the village jobless” and his parents and friends often egged him on, instead, to learn the tricks of the sea if he were to make a living. Alternative employment was a worthless dream, according to fishermen who spoke to Frontline, and the belief that fishing is the only job for them seemed to be ingrained in the coastal psyche.

    G. Celestine, president of the Kanyakumari District Fishworkers Union.
    According to A.J. Vijayan, a trade union leader and researcher based in Thiruvananthapuram, the government should consider seriously whether replacing lost fishing craft and gear would be the ideal way to provide long-term succour to fishermen affected by the tsunami. The most striking problem in the coastal district was one of over-exploitation of fishery resources and an alarming increase in craft and gear meant for further exploitation, he said. Ideally, the government should aim at finding alternative employment for the fishworkers in the long term at least, he said. Many fishermen and social workers in Kanyakumari district, however, said that denying fishing gear and craft to fishermen affected by the tsunami would only push them into further poverty and hunger and new policy initiatives can be implemented only in the long term, if at all.

    Celestine said that this was a matter of great concern to members of the fishermen community as very few people from among them were interested or were successful in finding alternative employment. But one fisherman in Kottilpady said that he had taken a loan of Rs.2 lakhs and sold most of his assets to see that his only daughter completed her engineering course, while his elder son went with him to the sea and the younger one continued in school. Prabha, a 27-year-old schoolteacher now employed in Jharkhand, said that her father was always very clear that she and her brother should complete their studies and should not be bound to the sea and their native village of Keezhemanakkudi, where the tsunami claimed the lives of 36 people, including her mother.

    According to Celestine, such people are exceptions to the rule but the trend was evident – of a growing reluctance to take up education and alternative employment at a time when coastal communities were being drowned in a surplus of fishing craft and gear and were facing dwindling resources. Those who indeed succeeded in finding alternative employment or other income-generating ventures soon became the elite who drifted away permanently from the coastal villages and the mass of people there.

    Selvaraj said that in most villages in coastal Kanyakumari, for example, men above the age of 35 were increasingly becoming unfit to venture out to sea and were turning to illicit liquor to while away time and were becoming unproductive quite early in their lives. “Our forefathers used to bless us famously to go on living up to the ripe old age of 100 but nowadays people have started believing that even a 60-year life span would be too much of a burden on their families.”

    Soosai Antony, a social worker based in the Rajakkmangalam fishing hamlet.
    HOWEVER, according to Soosai Antony, the biggest danger in the fishing villages of Tamil Nadu is the imposing influence of religion, religious leaders and accompanying vested interests that tend to keep coastal communities under a vice-like grip, never letting them stray out into the mainstream or develop a liberating class consciousness.

    Alexander said that in Kanyakumari, “where the Roman Catholic Church is literally the government for the coastal parishioners”, there were increasing instances of fisher persons trying to break free from the hold of the Church being excommunicated from the village or those converting to other sects being barred from having even drinking water from their native villages. “Free thinking is discouraged. Education is not encouraged. Elected representatives are not allowed to function freely or to mingle with the coastal villagers. Every issue is left to the parish council. What the priest says goes,” he said.

    In some villages even the auctioning of fish at the landing centres is entrusted to certain people by the parish council, which is then entitled to a 2-3 per cent share of the bounty from the sea, according to Selvaraj. He said: “Some parishes have a system of informal tax for the maintenance of the church to be paid yearly by the auctioneers, who are then allowed a free rein in the buying and selling of fish in the village. No tax is paid to the panchayat though. All this happens at the expense of the labour of the poor fishermen.”

    Celestine believes that efforts to form trade unions of fishworkers are almost always scuttled by the parish councils. “One such effort in some villages to form a catamaran fishermen’s union resulted in clashes and intervention by the Church with incentives to discourage people from forming the union. The Church then went on to establish a coastal peace and development committee for the district, a maverick instrument under it that effectively ensured that no union emerged from among the ordinary fishermen. The system almost always makes sure that laymen leaders also do not emerge from among the fishworkers,” he said.

    The parish church at Keezhemanakkudi after the tsunami strike.
    Soosai Antony said that in most of the villages along the coast, priesthood had become a “big business”, and complaints are increasing that those close to the parishes and their leaders alone benefited from the economic, social and educational opportunities thrown open by the Church. He said a judicial commission that inquired into the police firing at Mandaikkadu coastal village in 1982 had even observed that the fishermen of Kanyakumari were being used as “warriors to protect the priests”.

    “Becoming a priest is an easy way of going to a foreign country within two or three years, arranging opportunities for relatives and friends abroad and then establishing a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for fishermen in their local villages. There are any numbers of prosperous NGOs receiving foreign funds in the name of fishermen under the patronage of parish priests all along the west coast. All this works to the disadvantage of the lot of the ordinary fishworker and his family members who are kept on a tight leash, never allowed even to air his grievances properly. A time will come soon when there will be bloodshed on the coast,” Soosai Antony said.

  2. கிருத்துவ பிஷப்புகள் பலகுரல்களில் பேசுவது: கூடங்குள நாடகம் (3)! « இந்தியாவில் கிருத்துவம் Says:

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  3. vedaprakash Says:

    கூடங்குளம் போராட்டமும்… ஆயர்களின் ஆதரவும்…: விசுவாசிகள் சந்தேகம்

    பதிவு செய்த நாள் : மார்ச் 11,2012,23:24 IST
    http://www.dinamalar.com/News_detail.asp?Id=424570

    கூடங்குளம் போராட்ட ஆதரவு தொண்டு நிறுவனங்களுக்கு, வெளிநாட்டு நிதி வரத்தை ரத்து செய்ததால், மத்திய அரசு மீது கத்தோலிக்க அமைப்புகள் அதிருப்தி அடைந்துள்ளன. ஆனால், பிரச்னையை தீர்க்க தேவாலயங்கள் ஏன் முன்வரவில்லை என, பொதுமக்கள் அதிருப்தி அடைந்துள்ளனர்.

    ஆலய வளாகத்தில்…:கூடங்குளம் அணுமின் நிலையத்திற்கு எதிரான போராட்டம், நெல்லை மாவட்ட கடலோர கிராமமான இடிந்தகரையில், லூர்து மாதா கிறித்துவ ஆலய வளாகத்தில் பந்தலிட்டு நடத்தப்படுகிறது. இந்த போராட்டத்தை லூர்து மாதா ஆலய பாதிரியார் ஜெயக்குமார், அனைத்து விதமான உதவிகளும் செய்து வருகிறார்.
    போராட்டம் நடக்கும் ஆலய வளாகம், கத்தோலிக்க பிஷப்களின் கட்டுப்பாட்டில் உள்ள தூத்துக்குடி கத்தோலிக்க மறை மாவட்ட ஆயரின் நேரடி நிர்வாகத்தில் உள்ளது.
    போராட்டத்திற்கு தூத்துக்குடி மறை மாவட்ட ஆயர் இவான் அம்ப்ரோஸ் நேரடி ஆதரவு தந்து, போராட்ட களத்தில் பலமுறை பங்கேற்றார்.

    வழக்குகள்:மேலும், சேரன்மகாதேவி பாதிரியார் மைபா ஜேசுராஜன், கூத்தங்குளி பாதிரியார் ரட்சகநாதன், கூடங்குளம் பாதிரியார் பதேயூஸ் ராஜன், கூட்டப்புளி பாதிரியார் சுசிலன் உள்ளிட்டோரும் நேரடியாக போராட்டத்தில் பங்கேற்றனர். போலீஸ் அனுமதியின்றி நடக்கும், இந்த போராட்டத்தில் கலந்து கொண்டதாக, இவான் அம்ப்ரோஸ் உட்பட ஆறு பாதிரியார்கள் மீதும், கூடங்குளம் போலீஸ் நிலையத்தில் வழக்குகள் பதிவாகியுள்ளன. இதற்கிடையில், கிறிஸ்துவ தொண்டு நிறுவனங்கள் மூலம், கூடங்குளம் போராட்டத்திற்கு வெளிநாட்டு நிதியுதவி வருவதாக, மத்திய அரசு குற்றஞ்சாட்டியது. மத்திய உள்துறை அதிகாரிகள், தூத்துக்குடி மற்றும் கன்னியாகுமரி மாவட்டத்தில், 12 தொண்டு நிறுவனங்களிடம் விசாரணை நடத்தியுள்ளனர்.இதில் தூத்துக்குடி மறை மாவட்ட நிர்வாகத்திற்குட்பட்ட தூத்துக்குடி பல்நோக்கு சேவை சங்கம், தூத்துக்குடி மறைமாவட்ட சங்கம் ஆகிய தொண்டு நிறுவனங்களின், வெளிநாட்டு நிதியுதவி பெறும் உரிமை எண்ணை மத்திய அரசு அதிரடியாக ரத்து செய்துள்ளது.இதனால், சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நிறுவனங்களுக்கு வெளிநாட்டு நிதிவரத்து முடங்கிவிட்டது. இந்த நடவடிக்கையால், கத்தோலிக்க பேராயர் தலைமையிலான ஆயர்கள் அதிருப்தி அடைந்துள்ளனர். இதுதொடர்பாக, கடந்த சில தினங்களுக்கு முன், பேராயர் சின்னப்பா அளித்த பேட்டியில், “இந்த போராட்டம் கிறித்துவ போராட்டமல்ல. கூடங்குளம் போராட்டத்திற்கு நாங்கள் நிதியுதவி தரவில்லை’ என கூறியுள்ளார்.

    ஆதரவும், சந்தேகமும்:போராட்டத்திற்கு தார்மீக அடிப்படையில் ஆதரவு அளிப்பதாக, அவர் தெரிவித்துள்ளார். அவரது இந்த பேச்சு, பொது மக்கள் மத்தியில் பல்வேறு கேள்விகளை எழுப்பியுள்ளது. கிறித்துவ நிறுவனங்கள் உதவி செய்யவில்லை என்றால், எதற்காக கிறித்துவ ஆலய வளாகத்தில் போராட்டம் நடக்க வேண்டும் என்ற கேள்வி எழுந்துள்ளது.திருநெல்வேலி மாவட்டத்திற்கு தொடர்பில்லாத கன்னியாகுமரி மாவட்டத்தை சேர்ந்த உதயகுமாரும், தூத்துக்குடி மாவட்டம் திருச்செந்தூரிலுள்ள அமலி நகரை சேர்ந்த இடிந்தகரை பாதிரியார் ஜெயக்குமாரும், முதல்முறையாக ஏன் கூடங்குளம் அணுமின் நிலையத்திற்கு எதிரான போராட்டத்தை துவக்கி வைத்தனர். எங்கோ நடக்கும் போராட்டத்திற்கு தூத்துக்குடியில் உள்ள மறை மாவட்ட ஆயர் இவான் அம்ப்ரோஸ் ஏன் நேரில் வந்து பங்கேற்க வேண்டும் என, சந்தேகங்கள் எழுந்துள்ளன.

    கேள்விகள்:பொதுமக்கள் பாதிக்கப்படுவார்கள் என்பதால், கூடங்குளம் போராட்டத்திற்கு மதத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்டு ஆதரவு தருவதாக கத்தோலிக்க ஆயர்கள் கூறுகின்றனர். இதேபோல், கேரளாவுக்கு எதிரான, தமிழக மக்களின் ஒட்டுமொத்த உணர்ச்சி போராட்டமான முல்லைப்பெரியாறு பிரச்னையில், ஏன் பங்கேற்கவில்லை. கர்நாடகாவிற்கு எதிரான காவிரி பிரச்னையில் ஏன் கலந்து கொள்ளவில்லை. மின்வெட்டுக்கு எதிராகவும், தமிழகத்திற்கு மத்திய அரசு கூடுதல் மின்சாரம் தராததை எதிர்த்தும், பெட்ரோல், டீசல் விலை உயர்வை எதிர்த்தும் நடைபெறும் போராட்டங்களில் ஆயர்கள் ஆதரவு தராதது ஏன்? என பல்வேறு கேள்விகளும், சந்தேகங்களும் நடுநிலையாளர்கள் மத்தியில் எழுந் துள்ளன.மத்திய அரசின் சார்பிலான விஞ்ஞானி ஆபிரகாம் முத்துநாயகம் தலைமையிலான நிபுணர் குழுவின் மீதும், தமிழகத்தில் சிறந்த பல்கலையான அண்ணா பல்கலை பேராசிரியர் இனியன் தலைமையிலான நிபுணர் குழு மீதும், உலகில் சிறந்த இந்திய விஞ்ஞானியாக கருதப்படும் அப்துல்கலாம் மீதும், அவர்களது அறிவியல் ரீதியிலான ஆய்வறிக்கைகள் மீதும், கத்தோலிக்க ஆயர்களுக்கு நம்பிக்கை வரவில்லையா?

    புதிர்:எந்த அறிவியல் பூர்வ ஆய்வையும் மேற்கொள்ளாத, சொன்னதையே திரும்ப
    திரும்ப சொல்லும் விதண்டாவாதியான உதயகுமார் மற்றும் பீதியூட்டும் குழுவினர் மீதுதான், பிஷப்கள் நம்பிக்கை வைத்துள்ளார்களா என்ற கேள்விகள் அனைவர் உள்ளத்திலும் எழுந்துள்ளன. இதற்கு தார்மீக ரீதியான, மனசாட்சியும், உளஉறுதியும் கொண்ட பதில்களை, ஆயர்கள் மீது அளவற்ற பற்று கொண்ட மதத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட விசுவாசிகளான தமிழக மக்கள் எதிர்பார்க்கின்றனர்.இந்திய மக்களின் வரிப்பணமான 14,000 கோடி ரூபாய் பணத்தை, பல ஆண்டுகள் ஆய்வுகளின் போதும், அதற்கு பிறகும், அணுமின் நிலையமாக அமைக்கும் வரை, இந்த ஆயர்களும், தார்மீக ஆதரவளிக்கும் ஆலய வளாகங்களும் என்ன செய்து கொண்டிருந்தன என்பது விடை தெரியாத மில்லியன் அமெரிக்க டாலர் கேள்வியாக உள்ளது.

    – நமது சிறப்பு நிருபர் –

  4. vedaprakash Says:

    What They Said: India Cracks Down on Foreign NGOs
    By Krishna Pokharel. Manish Swarup/Associated Press
    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/03/10/what-they-said-india-cracks-down-on-foreign-ngos/?mod=irt

    A woman living near Kudankulam atomic plant holds a placard as she participates in an anti-nuclear protest in New Delhi on Dec. 8, 2011.
    The focus of most Indian newspaper editorials and commentaries this week was the political and economic ramifications of the results announced Tuesday of assembly elections in five Indian states.

    Of the few other issues that made it in the news was New Delhi’s increasing uneasiness with non-governmental organizations the central government alleges have been encouraging protests against nuclear power. In an opinion piece published earlier this week and headlined “India’s Civil Liberties Under Attack,” The Wall Street Journal also weighed in on this issue.

    The “foreign hand” has cropped up in the rhetoric of Indian politicians who say anti-nuclear protests have interfered with the construction of two nuclear power plants in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. In a rare interview, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also alleged he suspected foreign NGOs were behind these protests.

    Locals have been protesting against the Kudankulam project, citing safety concerns among other reasons.

    Following Mr. Singh’s remarks, Indian authorities have put pressure on several NGOs they suspect have been funding the protests illegally. Late last month, cases were registered against four NGOs in Tamil Nadu on these grounds. A German national accused of involvement was deported, though he denies any wrongdoing.

    More recently, the Hindustan Times reported that the government has put as many as 77 foreign NGOs on its “global watchlist,” meaning it may get a lot harder for their staff to get Indian visas.

    India Real Time presents a roundup of what several Indian newspapers and commentators said on the government’s crackdown on foreign NGOs.

    Writing in the Business Standard on Thursday, columnist Ajit Balakrishnan said that NGOs in India have “travelled a long way from the time they drew in wives of doctors, lawyers and other professionals to help their less fortunate brethren.”

    “Some of them are now full-fledged political interest groups,” Mr. Balakrishnan writes, referring to NGOs in general. He points out that the conflict between NGOs and the government isn’t new, nor is it unique to India, “it is a feature in many developing countries.” Citing a 1999 study on state-NGO relations in India, he says that the conflict between the Indian state and NGOs dates back to 1967, when it emerged that a prominent NGO had been funded by the C.I.A.

    He notes that “many foreign missionaries and NGO officials were expelled” at the time and that this lead to a 1976 law regulating foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. He says that the emergence of NGOs as political interest groups is a deviation from what NGOs workers were originally all about: “do-gooders unencumbered and untainted by the politics of government or the greed of the market.”

    “This is a pity because Gandhiji, who was the original true believer in the NGO idea, believed that voluntary action was the real path to India’s development. During the freedom movement, volunteers undertook multiple programmes through organisations formed by Gandhians,” Mr. Balakrishnan writes. He ends his commentary wondering “Isn’t there a way for NGOs to return to their original role?”

    Activist and political analyst Praful Bidwai wrote an opinion piece headlined “Don’t demonise dissenting voices” on Thursday’s Financial Chronicle. Referring to Mr. Singh’s interview, Mr. Bidwai argues that “the ‘foreign hand’ charge sounds surreal coming from a politician who two decades ago indiscriminately opened up the economy to international capital and trade, and who has recently batted harder than any Indian for foreign nuclear reactor manufacturers.”

    “That apart, people like Singh don’t understand the dynamics of grassroots people’s struggles and what motivates them to sustain numerous marches, boat rallies and an uninterrupted relay hunger-strike since October 18,” a reference to the protests of the people in Kudankulam against the nuclear power plants there.

    “Singh simply doesn’t comprehend the people’s commitment to non-violence and their determination based on high levels of information and awareness of nuclear safety problems,” Mr. Bidwai says.

    He says Mr. Singh should treat the Kudankulam protesters with the “respect they deserve.”

    “Above all, there must be no attempt to commission the Koodankulam reactors until the people’s concerns have been fully addressed,” Mr. Bidwai says.

    Earlier in the week, in a piece for The Pioneer, Chandan Mitra, a lawmaker of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, wrote that “Manmohan Singh’s U-turn on foreign-funded NGOs has come too late to be effective.”

    Mr. Mitra says that the government itself encouraged the interventions of NGOs in the country’s policy-making process by “outsourcing all such matters to jholawalas,” a term used to describe NGO workers, who are typically seen carrying sling bags, or jholas.

    He singled out Right-to-Information activist Aruna Roy, activist and scholar Jean Dreze, and social activists Harsh Mander, Farah Naqvi and Teesta Setalvad.

    Mr. Mitra criticized Mr. Singh for “inviting scores of US-backed NGOs to rule over India’s health sector.”

    “Manmohan Singh is truly hoist with his own petard,” Mr. Mitra said. “The NGO industry is now too big to contain and influences levers of power that are virtually impossible to curb.”

    “While his U-turn on ‘anti-development’ NGOs is welcome, howsoever late in the day and for whatever reasons it has happened, it is doubtful if the Government will be allowed to sustain this offensive” he says. He concludes by saying: “A hapless Prime Minister is stuck between a rock, namely Western nuclear reactor sellers backed by their respective Governments, and a hard place, that is the ultra-powerful domestic NGO lobby, flush with foreign funds and enjoying a dominant position within the corridors of power in Delhi.”

    Some commentators were critical of Mr. Singh’s attack on foreign NGOs. Neelabh Mishra of Outlook magazine wrote that the “hypocrisy from the head of a supposedly democratic government betrays an intolerance for democratic dissent that challenges existing power structures.”

    “The prime minister has always been bullish about pumping foreign corporate funds into nearly all sectors of the Indian economy,” says Mr. Mishra adding that “it is no small irony, that he is the same man who is trying to stoke the xenophobic fears of the middle class by questioning the foreign support—if any—for a popular campaign born of people’s concern about nuclear safety.”

    “The intensity of the government’s vindictiveness” against certain NGOs in the anti-Kudankulam nuclear plant campaign “is of the same ilk as that which was deployed, for all to see, against the members of Anna Hazare’s team who launched the Lokpal agitation,” Mr. Mishra writes.

  5. vedaprakash Says:

    PM Singh Sees the Dreaded Foreign Hand
    By Margherita Stancati
    Manish Swarup/Associated Press
    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/02/24/pm-singh-sees-the-dreaded-foreign-hand-in-nuclear-protest/

    A woman participated in a protest in New Delhi against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, Dec. 8, 2011.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has now joined the chorus of Indian politicians blaming the infamous “foreign hand” for, well, just about anything they don’t like.

    In an interview published this week in Science magazine, Mr. Singh has blamed protests against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, on non-governmental organizations and singled out U.S. ones. He didn’t say the words “foreign hand” directly, but he might as well have.

    “The atomic energy program has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply,” Mr. Singh said with reference to protests in Kudankulam. Protests by locals against the construction of the Kudankulam plant have forced the state-run Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. to delay the opening of the unit.

    Mr. Singh is known for being mild-mannered and, if anything, overly cautious in his public addresses. And he almost never, ever grants interviews to the press, foreign or domestic, even though he is trying to improve his communications with the world through Twitter. So his bald willingness to lay blame at the seat of unnamed NGOs in the U.S. in a magazine interview is somewhat surprising, if not downright unfortunate.

    This is not the first time the government has alleged that murky funding may be behind the unrest in Kudankulam. India’s home ministry is looking into whether several NGOs based there have been illicitly funded by foreigners, according to reports.

    “Investigation is going on to know how the protestors are getting funds. If there is anything wrong, if the money came in a wrong way, if it was used for wrong purpose and if the accounts were not properly maintained, certainly action will be taken,” Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said earlier this month, according to the Press Trust of India. He made no mention that foreigners may be involved. (Similar allegations relating to NGO funding were made by senior Congress party politician V. Narayanasamy in an interview uploaded Friday on the government’s Press Information Bureau website. )

    Only time will tell whether the government’s concerns about funding are valid or not. And there is no denying India does have an energy problem that is largely, we might point out, of the government’s own making.

    But pointing fingers at foreign groups for stirring opposition to nuclear power feels more than a little cheap from a prime minister lauded by his supporters for being so “sober” in his outlook. And it gives little weight to the possibility that locals may be genuinely worried about having a nuclear power plant in their backyard.

    When asked whether, following the nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima last year, he thought there is still room for nuclear energy in India, Mr. Singh said: “Yes, where India is concerned, yes. The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy.”

    The “thinking segment of our population”? Really?

    Mr. Singh is dismissing all people who don’t agree with him as not thinking.

    As Mr. Singh surely knows, protests against nuclear power in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India were by no means isolated incidents. The nuclear crisis that followed Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami sparked a global backlash against nuclear power. The Japanese government said no new reactor would be built in the country and in Germany, the government vowed to close down all its nuclear power plants by 2022. Elsewhere, including in the United Kingdom, nuclear expansion plans have since slowed down. No thinking people there, surely.

    In his interview with Science magazine, Mr. Singh also addressed biotechnology. He said it “has enormous potential, and in due course of time we must make use of genetic engineering technologies to increase the productivity of our agriculture.” He hinted that NGOs from overseas were getting in the way of this, too: “There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges our country faces. He added: “But we are a democracy, we are not like China,” which is probably the second-most used excuse of Indian politicians after the foreign hand.

    It was Mr. Singh’s own then-environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, who in 2010 quashed a government committee’s recommendation to introduce genetically-modified eggplant in India. Mr. Ramesh, who is not American or Scandinavian but Indian, said he was putting a moratorium on the move until “independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and environment.”

    The foreign hand – typically whipped out by politicians who can’t handle domestic opposition – has a long history with the ruling Congress party. A favorite of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the late 1970s, when she imposed authoritarian rule, it made a comeback last summer, when a party spokesman said he suspected a foreign power was behind the mass anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare.

    Mr. Singh’s recent comments on nuclear power are a departure from his earlier statements on the matter. In December, he was quoted as saying that the Kudankulam protests “reflect the concern among people about the safety of nuclear energy.”

    The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday called on the Prime Minister to clarify his remarks on foreign NGOs.

    On his much-made-of Twitter account, Mr. Singh makes no mention of his views on the nuclear power or the thinking ability of the Kudankulam protesters. When we checked, his last Tweet was a picture of him and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sharing “a light moment” Tuesday night.

  6. vedaprakash Says:

    Govt cracks down on four NGOs

    Express news service : New Delhi, Tue Feb 28 2012, 21:58 hrs
    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-cracks-down-on-four-ngos/917848/0

    WITHIN days of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blaming foreign-funded NGOs for instigating anti-nuclear protests in Koodankulam, the government today booked four NGOs for violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and deported one German national for reportedly helping the protestors.
    Home Secretary R K Singh told reporters that the bank accounts of these four NGOs were frozen after it was found that they had been diverting money received from their donors abroad into funding the protests at Koodankulam. He said cases for violation of FCRA provisions had been registered, but did not name the NGOs. Cases have been registered by the Crime Branch of Tamil Nadu police as well as the CBI, he said.

    Meanwhile, a German national, 49-year-old Sonnteg Reiner Hermann, was deported this morning after being charged with helping the protestors. Hermann, who was in India on a tourist visa, was found to be “roaming” around the plant site for the last few days. He was picked up by the Tamil Nadu police from Nagercoil and asked to leave the country immediately.

    Last week, the Prime Minister had blamed NGOs “often funded from the United States and Scandinavian countries” for leading the agitation at Koodankulam, where India is setting up two 1000-MW nuclear reactors with Russian help.

    Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said the German national was violating the terms of his visa and was “actively involved” in the protests. He said the action against the NGOs was “long overdue”. “There is a clear case of foreign money being misused by some NGOs in Koodankulam. The protests are obviously engineered,” he said.

  7. vedaprakash Says:

    Hermann seems more a scapegoat than an instigator
    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws290212Koodankulam.asp

    The German seems to have been deported to give a face to the foreign hand supposedly funding anti-nuclear protests, writes Jeemon Jacob

    The movement gathered momentum only after women took an interest

    After a stormy night and a long flight, Sonntag Rainer Hermann, the German tourist deported from Chennai, reached Essen (near Dusseldorf) at 7 pm on 28 February. In response to TEHELKA’s emails, he wrote, “I travelled safe to my hometown. This is the first connection to the Internet. The last two nights I had no bed and I’m very tired now. So, please allow me some time to rest. I need some time to think.”

    The Tamil Nadu Police deported the 49-year-old computer programmer on 27 February, accusing him of funding the anti-nuke protests in Koodankulam, where two Russian reactors are expected to add 900 MW of electricity to the Tamil Nadu grid, catering to at least four million people.

    Worries about exposure to radiation were heightened after the 2011 Fukushima accident. Protests escalated, with about 3,000 people going on a relay fast.

    However, a question often asked was why the locals did not protest sooner. And this is where the conspiracy theories — proof is still elusive — of foreign involvement begin. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Indian NGOs were getting funds from American and west European sources to obstruct the Russian-built plants.

    And Hermann was deported for being one of the funders.

    Strangely, he did not live a clandestine life. He was well known in Nagercoil as a regular tourist and a dedicated conservationist. People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) convener SP Udayakumar says he met Hermann eight years ago. “Rainer had amoebic dysentry and spent very little,” says Udayakumar. “He did participate in a protest organised by PMANE in New Delhi in 2007, but he has never funded or donated to support our struggle. I have not met him or spoken to him for the last one year.” He has no family, being unmarried, and having lost his mother recently.

    The police picked up Hermann from Nagercoil based on a tip-off from the Intelligence Bureau. He was brought to Chennai, his tourist visa cancelled and he was deported. According to a senior police officer, the police also raided Ganga Tamil Nadu Hotel in Nagercoil, where the German was staying, and seized his laptop.

    According to hotel manager Jayapal, Hermann checked in on 12 February. “Ours is a budget hotel that charges Rs 200 per day for a non-AC room,” says Jayapal. Hermann paid an advance of Rs 3,400.

    RS Lal Mohan, a retired principal scientist from Indian Council of Agriculture Research and a conservationist, describes Hermann as “a poor tourist from Germany” who has been frequenting Nagercoil for many years.

    When asked if Hermann could have funded the protest, Mohan is livid. “He was spending his retired life visiting cheap destinations like Nepal, Thailand and Laos. Even our fishermen can afford more luxuries. How can such a person fund the Koodankulam anti-nuke protest?”

    Oddly enough, the police is also now denying Hermann’s role. “We don’t have information about his involvement in the Koodankulam protests,” admits Tirunelveli Police Commissioner V Varadaraju. “We were acting on information provided by the Central government.”

    Meanwhile, the home ministry has blacklisted four NGOs, two of which are church-based non-profits, for violating FCRA rules. They are Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society (TMSSS), Tuticorin Diocese Association (TDA), People’s Education for Action and Community Empowerment run by PMANE convener Udayakumar and Good Vision Charitable Trust run by PMANE political wing convener Mano Thangaraj.

    TMSSS and TDA run by Tuticorin Bishop Yuvan Ambross received Rs 42 crore and Rs 23 crore respectively during the past five years. TDA’s audited statement of expenditure for 2009-10 reveals that the NGO received Rs 37.40 lakh from Germany and Rs 4.5 lakh from the US as aid.

    “But we have not funded the Koodankulam protests with this foreign aid. The government has frozen our bank accounts and is trying to terrorise us with motivated campaign against the church,” says Father William Santhanam, spokesperson of the Tuticorin diocese.

    ‘Funding NGOs? I was living on $10 a day’

    AFTER A stormy night and a long flight, Rainer Sonntag Hermann reached Essen at 7 pm on 28 February. Hermann is the German tourist who was deported from Chennai the previous day on charges of being involved in the anti-nuke protests at Koodankulam. When TEHELKA tried to contact him via email, he replied, “The last two nights I had no bed and I’m very tired now. So, please allow me some time to rest. I need some time to think.” Hours later, he opened up to Jeemon Jacob about his stay in Nagercoil and his deportation.

    Mystery man Rainer Hermann

    Photo: Jayahara

    EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

    On what charges were you deported from Chennai?
    I don’t know. The policemen who took me to Chennai didn’t disclose any charges. They gave me a photocopy of some papers, but it didn’t explain any reasons. At the Chennai airport, the top official I spoke to was Foreigners’ Regional Registration Officer N Kannan. He told me that I was being deported because of “violating visa regulations”. He said that the government believes that I’m supporting an NGO. I asked him if he meant the anti-Koodankulam NGO? He said yes. I asked him about the charges and he told me that I should know it. When I told him that I don’t understand, he replied: Candle-light procession. But it didn’t ring any bell. Newspapers claim that I’m the mastermind of the NGO. I don’t speak a word in Tamil. I was a visitor at some public meeting with a lot of other people talking Tamil and I often didn’t understand one word. I took some photos to send it to friends in Germany like other tourists do.

    Why are you so much attached to Nagercoil?
    In the past two decades, I may have visited India 10-15 times. Three years ago, I stopped working as a computer programmer and started to live on my savings. If I wanted to stay in Germany, I would have to work because my savings are too small. But in countries like India and Nepal, I manage to live from my savings.

    I was in Nagercoil because I like to be in a small not-too-busy tourist town. I spend my time reading, exchanging emails with my German friends, and trying to learn about India. I learnt most of my English in India.

    I like the climate in Nagercoil very much because it is close to the sea. I’m getting older. I like to visit familiar places so that I know where the restaurants and hotels are. I like south India because most people know English and I don’t have to learn the local language. Years ago, I used to stay in Puducherry. But at weekends, the cheap hotels were often filled with drunk tourists. So I shifted.

    When did you come to Nagercoil?
    I got a visa from the Indian Embassy in Bangkok for 17 January-16 July. I flew from Bangkok to Kolkata on 22 January. I spent a few days there and then caught a train to Chennai and then arrived in Nagercoil on 27 January.

    Have you ever visited Koodankulam?
    Last year, I attended a public demonstration. As far as I know, it wasn’t an illegal act.

    What is your understanding of the anti-nuke agitation?
    I don’t know much about it. Just like the majority of the Germans, I oppose nuclear plants. I’m not a specialist on the subject. I don’t know what kind of agitation is going on in Nagercoil. When I landed there, I tried to figure it out by reading newspapers.

    How do you know PNAME convener SP Udayakumar?
    I don’t remember when I met or spoke with Udayakumar the last time. For sure, since I left India last year I haven’t had any contact with Udayakumar. Yesterday, I sent an email to inform him about my safe arrival.

    There are allegations that you were funding the protests.
    That’s utter nonsense. I lived in India on a $10-per day basis. Idli, idiyappam and meals were my main food. Every day, I spent Rs 10-30 at the Internet cafe. There is no space in my budget for financial aid to any other people or organisation. I’m not involved in drug abuse (besides tobacco, tea and coffee). I dislike Indian alcohol. I never transferred money to any anti-nuke NGO. I’m unemployed and don’t receive orders from any group in Germany or anywhere else.

    Tell us about the arrest.
    Ten policeman arrived at the hotel at around 8.30 pm. I had to pack my bags in a hurry. At around 10 pm, I was placed inside a police van. They drove the whole night. At 12 noon the next day, I was handed over to the Chennai airport officials. I had to pay for the direct flight (Chennai-Frankfurt, Rs 69,000).

    Did anybody explain why you were being deported?
    Every time I asked what crime I’ve committed, they smiled. I was deported with a smile. Without goodbyes.

    Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.
    jeemonj@gmail.com

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