Police in India must ensure they do not use excessive force against individuals protesting the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, Amnesty International said today.
It was this morning that police confronted protesters who had gathered close to the site of the power plant, firing tear gas shells and beating protesters with lathis (batons). In response, it is reported that protestors threw sand and stones at the police.
“The Indian authorities should exercise restraint and ensure that the police response does not amount to excessive use of force”, said Ananth Guruswamy, Amnesty International India’s Country Director.
Protests against the Kudankulam plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu first began in March this year, and have been based in the village of Idinthakarai. Demonstrations have intensified over the past two days with fuelling of the plant set to start on 11 September.
Protestors are demanding that the fuelling is stopped and that a police-imposed curfew on local villages be lifted.
Reports suggest that three women protestors have been arrested by the police, one of whom has been arrested on charges of sedition. The two leaders of the protest movement have currently been taken to a undisclosed location, after villagers reportedly formed a human shield around them when police tried to arrest them.
Protests are still ongoing, and Amnesty International has received information that police has entered Idinthakarai, with violence reported from both police and protesters.
“We ask the police to release those individuals who have been arrested on apparently false charges and simply for exercising their right to peaceful political protest,” said Ananth Guruswamy. “Any reports of the excessive use of force by the police must be promptly investigated”.
Amnesty International reminds state authorities that any use of force by the police must be in compliance with international standards for the protection of the right to life and security of person, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Police may resort to force only if other means are ineffective, and must only use such force as is proportionate to legitimate objectives.