Antinuclear yatra from April 23 to 25 had two objects: One, to remove the misleading and wrong propaganda by the government and the official scientists that nuclear plants pose no danger. Second, to show the country and the world that the movements going on against the proposed and already established nuclear plants are not local movements, the whole country is against them. Maharashtra State government had deployed police at every corner and tried its best not to allow this national yatra to reach its target- Jaitapur. But the resolve of 100 participants from 12 states created history when 11 strong representatives, facing all difficulties and dangers, did reach Sakhari Nate.
In the Yatra, representatvies of antinuclear movements at Haripur (W. Bangal). Chutka (M.P.), Kudamkulam (T.N.), and Jaitapur (Maharashtra, antimines movement in Jharkhand, Azadi Bachao Andolan (Allahabad), Lokayat (Pune). Sarvodaya, PUCL (Bangalore), Third Freedom Movement (Mumbai), Muktiyaan (Mumbai), Revolutionary) Youth Federation (Delhi), Students Union JNU (Delhi), National Fishworkers Forum, NAPM, Maharashtra Shramik Sangathan, Public Sector Industries Officers Union, and former judges of Supreme Court and High Court, former Naval chief, scientists, educationists, economists, journalists, film makers, social activists and youths participated. Names of some participants are: Justice P.B. Sawant, Admiral L. Ramdas, Justice Kolse- Patil, Amarnath Bhai (Former President A.I. Sarvoday Mandal), Prof. Anil Sadgopal (A.I. Forum for Right to Education), Bhai Vaidya (social thinker and former state minister) Prof. H.M. Desarda (Economist and former member of Maharashtra State Planning Board). Dr. K. Ashok Rao (President, Public Sector Industries Officers’ Union), Dr. Saumya Dutta (Scientist, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jaththa), Dr. S.P. Udai Kumar (Convenor, National Alliance of Antinuclear Movements), Gabriela (NAPM), Dr. Neelkhanth (Former Scientist of BARC), Ram Krishna Tandel (NFF), Dr. Pradeep (Scientist, W. Bengal), Neeraj Jain (Convenor, Lokayat), Dr. Aseem Srivastav (Economist, Delhi), Uday Bhatt (Mah. Shramik Sangathan), Sandeep Singh (President JNU Students Union), Dr. Amit Das (Scientist), Vivekanand Mathne (Sarvodaya), Arati Chokshi (PUCL), Dr. V.N. Sharma (Forum for Right to Education), Sanowar Kishwar (Mukhiyaan), Mohd. Salim (Rev. Federation), Dr. Mithilesh Dangi, Manoj Tyagi, Yashvir Arya (Azadi Bachao Andolan), Vaishali Patil (Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti), Suma Jossu (Filmmaker), Jyoti Panwan (Journalist) and Prof. Banwari Lal Sharma (Azadi Bachao Andolan).
The yatra began with a huge public meeting at Tarapur, where along with yatris, local people and farmers also joined. The meeting was organised by Jeetendra Raul of Tarapur, presided over by Bhai Vaidya and conducted by Prof. Banwari Lal Sharma. The meeting was addressed mainly by Dr. Soumya Dutta, Dr. S.P. Udai Kumar, Justice P.B. Sawant, Admiral Ramdas, K. Ashok Rao, Justice Kolse Patil and Vaishali Patil. Speakers presented the objectives of the Yatra, scenerio of destruction to be caused by atomic power plants and struggles going on against them. When the meeting ended, the yatris started march on foot. As they completed one kilometre, police tried to stop them but they sat on the road in protest. Police said that it would allow yatra to proceed but before that we would take you all to police station and register your names and address. All yatris reached Boisar Police Station where their names- address were taken by the police. Again they asked the police to let them continue their yatra. But police officers did not allow. When police did not decide the course of action for three hours, yatris sat on hunger strike. Ultimatily police had to release all yatris who then started proceeding further.
Public meetings were to be held on 23rd April in Thane and Bhiwandi after the yatra left Tarapur, but due to police intervention yatra could not reach there, only few members like Alka Joshi, Dr. Soumya Dutta, Abhijeet could reach there, addressed the meeting and distributed pamphlets.
Yatris got released from Boisar Police Station at 10 o’ clock in the night. Police also gave threat to the bus owners and drivers. One of the driver stopped the bus mid way and escaped. Any how, yatris could reach Yusuf Mehaerally Centre at 5 o’ clock in the morning where Dr. G.G. Parikh and his colleagues offerred dinner to the yatris. Yatra further proceeded on 24th April and with local MLA organised a rally in Pen and a public meeting. Police immidiately came into action and detained 50 people in which 8 were from the yatris and remaining were local. Rest of the people were lodged in MLA’s office in police custody. That day two public meetings in Madgaon and kolad- were to be held. A team of yatris were sent there where they successfully held a big meeting in Kolad which was organised by Ulka Mahajan of NAPM. In the night yatris could reach Tara by dodging the police again.
On April 25, yatra proceeded further, took temporary stop for a while at Sane Guruji National Memorial and then took out a raly in Mahad. Mahad is the place where Baba Saheb Ambedkar organised a water satyagrah in 1927. Rally got off from Baba’s statue in memorial park and moved a while in the city when police again detained yatris under section 144 of IPC.
From Mahad, 11 representative of yatra proceeded to Jaitapur. They included Amarnath Bhai, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Prof. H.M. Desarda, Manoj Tyagi, Vivekanand Mathne, Dr. Mithilesh Dangi, Yashvir Arya, Principal Dharma Pal Tyagi, Sarpanch Satyadev, Mahendra Bhai and Prof. Banwari Lal Sharma. They took ST bus- on which the police had no suspicion and they reached Ratnagiri. With the help of friends in Ratnagiri they reached next morning in Sakhari Nate, dodging the police at various places. Activists from Madvan (the venue of the Jaitapur plant) also joined them at Nate. A condolence meeting at the house of Tabarej was held, Tabarej became martyr last week in the police firing. It was a touching scene. Yatris conveyed condolences of the whole country to the family and told that Tabarej had sacrificed his life for the country. A big public meting was held which was conducted by Amjad Borkar. He welcomed yatris and said, your presence has boosted our resolve, and we will fight till the plant is scrapped. Dr. Sharma expressed the support and solidarity with the brave people in their fight and advised to follow the path of nonviolence. Amarnath Bhai, Prof. Sadgopal and Prof. Desarda also addressed the meeting. The courage and reselve of the peo;le was worth seeing. IBN-7 covered the procedings of two meeting.
At noon, a press conference was held at Hotel Vivek, Ratnagiri. It was organised by journalist Abhijeet Hegshetrye.
Dr B. L. Sharma