Anti-nuke activist seeks Swaraj's help for return of passport

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 17, 2015 21:23 IST

Citing the humanitarian assistance lent to former cricket administrator Lalit Modi, anti-nuclear activist SP Udayakumar has written to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to help get back his passport impounded during the Manmohan Singh regime.

“If Lalit Modi, wanted by the Enforcement Directorate for serious financial fraud, can get humanitarian consideration, why not I and others who took up the cause of saving the environment and future generations,” Udayakumar, a doctorate in political science from the University of Hawaii, told HT.

The activist from Tamil Nadu who was also an Aam Aadmi Party candidate in the last Lok Sabha elections, said the passports of 500 people were impounded after they protested against the nuclear power project in Kudankulam.

The activists face charges of sedition, among others.

The Kudankulam plant was first agreed in 1988, in the twilight years of the Soviet Union, in a deal between then-president Mikhail Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi, India's prime minister then.

At that time, memories were still fresh of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster two years earlier that had killed dozens and intensified global fears about nuclear safety.

Villagers of Kudankulam launched fresh protests against the plant in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, after which much of the world began turning its back on nuclear energy.

As convener of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, Udayakumar's passport was first impounded in 2012. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court directed the revocation of that order. But after fresh cases were filed and summons issued, his passport was impounded again in 2013.

“I had been working as a visiting professor in a few international educational institutions and that was the sole source of income for me and my family that includes my aged parents, wife and two children. As a result of the seizure of my passport, I am unable to travel abroad, engage in my teaching activities and generate the much-needed income for my family,” he wrote in the letter.

“Since I hear now that you have been helping individuals with passport and visa issues on humanitarian grounds, may I request you to help me recover my impounded passport,” he added.

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