Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's stand that the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power project is being funded and fomented by foreign activists claimed its first casualty on Monday, with the arrest and deportation of a German national.
Sonnteg Reiner Hermann (50) was arrested in Nagercoil, some 65km from Chennai, and brought to the state capital, from where he was deported this morning. He was travelling on a tourist visa, which has been cancelled.
The action was taken by the 'Q' branch of the Tamil Nadu Police which monitors the activities of non-government organisations, reportedly after a tip from Delhi. He was said to be in constant contact with S P Udayakumar, whose organisation is spearheading the movement against the project.
A police raid at a lodge in Nagercoil where Hermann was staying reportedly found evidence of his involvement in mobilising funds for the anti-nuclear activists. He was then arrested, questioned, and sent back to Germany.
"It is unfortunate news. He is a genuine tourist and has been visiting various countries. It is a bad development for the country's tourism," a leading activist of the anti-project movement said.
The police differ. "We had been watching Hermann's movements and found that he was sourcing funds for activists in Tamil Nadu. We collected his mobile phone call details and found that he was in touch with Lalmohan, a close aide of Udayakumar who is leading the anti-nuclear agitation in Kudankulam," according to a police officer quoted in a leading local daily.