Arrest of non-violent protesters and crackdown on agitations against Koodankulam nuclear plant is a violation of democratic rights, National Advisory Council member and socio-political activist Aruna Roy said here today.

Cracking down on protests against the Nuclear plant is an example of “intolerance” of the Tamil Nadu government towards peaceful modes of expression of democratic concerns and differences, Roy told reporters here.
“Government cannot make isolated choices and people’s protests must be respected and heard. Democracy must accept dissent,” she said.

There should be public response against the plant from neighbouring states like Kerala, Roy said. Roy said she had visited Koodankulam and Idinthikkarai on
July 24 and locals, who she said, expressed anguish and dismay at the government’s insistence on going ahead with the plant.

Cases, including that for sedition, had been registered against them, she said. Roy, who was here to review the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, said the programme was doing very well in Kerala and 90 per cent of money was being distributed to the labour.

There have been issues over delayed payments. With the growing elderly population in the country, Roy, who is also associated with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatan of Rajasthan, a non-party people’s organisation, said the body had mooted a universal pension plan for the elderly.

The plan was to go to various states and assemble and spread awareness. In Rajasthan, elderly and families of the elderly were supporting the campaign, Roy said.

“Nineteen per cent of India is elderly and 14 per cent of the voting population are senior citizens. Suggestion is to include women above 50 and men above 55 who do hard manual labour in the scheme,” she said.



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