MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Protest Against Pokharan-II Again

It is two years since Pokharan-II, and it is time for the people to protest again. To reiterate with renewed vigour their opposition to all that those deafening blasts of May 1998 in the Rajasthan desert meant.

In this period, all the claims made by the authors and apologists of Pokharan-II have been proved absurd, utterly false. Simultaneously, the fears voiced by peace-loving people, by diverse sections of democratic opinion, have been fully vindicated.

As loud as the blasts was the boast of advocates of the Indian bomb that the nation's security had been now assured. They claimed that Pokharan-II was a promise of enduring peace in the subcontinent. After Pakistan replied with the resounding tests in the Chagai Hills, they prophesied regional peace with even greater certainty. India and Pakistan, these pundits swore, would never again go to war, not even a conventional war, against each other. The Bharatiya Janata Party government and the tests, they certified, had made no break with the country's proud and traditional policy of commitment to the cause of world peace and nuclear disarmament.

Came Kargil, and the claims lay shattered amid the heaps of Indian and Pakistani corpses on the Himalayan heights. The bus ride to Lahore before the war had proved no journey to India-Pakistan amity. Worse, the conventional conflict brought the prospect of nuclear disaster more perilously close to the subcontinent than ever before. From Pakistan emanated the threat to "use any weapon" and an organ of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, regarded by many as the real power behind the New Delhi regime, editorially exclaimed: "Why did we make the nuclear bomb? To keep on the shelf?".

The end of the conflict in Kargil spelt no end to the process of nuclear madness and militarism that had been set in motion. Even before the Defence Minister asked the country to be prepared for " a hundred Kargils", the government had come out with a Draft Nuclear Docrtrine. The rulers, who had staged Pokharan-II without asking the people, were on their own prescribing an absurd and obnoxious programme to make India a nuclear superpower.

The diabolical doctrine, combined with the unabashed ambition to make India a member of the `nuclear club', left little doubt that a go-by had been given to the nation's anti-nuclear-weapons crusade and commitments. The land of Buddha and Gandhi lost its powerful voice for peace, and none was more gleeful than the powers presiding over the largest of nuclear arsenals.

Predictions about the impact of the tests on India-Pakistan relations proved depressingly true. And so did fears about the fallout inside India. Pokharan-II proved a prelude to a major offensive of communalism on the country's minorities.

Concern about the economic cost of Pokharan-II has also proved entirely warranted. The nuclear weaponisation programme envisaged under the new-found doctrine was estimated to cost about Rs 45,000 crores over a decade. In the very first year, however, the (increase in the) defence expenditure has been of the dimension of Rs 13,000 crores. The latest Union Budget provides for an unprecedented increase of 28 per cent in such expenditure. The same budget snatches away paltry concessions for the poor under the public distribution scheme with a proud show of sternness.

The carcasses of animals strewn around the site of the tests in drought-stricken Rajasthan are a terrible illustration of the truth about the much-acclaimed `achievement' of 1998. Pokharan-II stands proved once again as a vicious mockery of the poverty of the vast masses of our people.

YES, IT IS TIME TO PROTEST AGAIN AGAINST POKHARAN-II. LET US DO SO BY TAKING A SOLEMN PLEDGE TO STRIVE FOR PEACE AND AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS HERE AND EVERYWHERE.

OUR DEMANDS
Roll back the process set in motion by Pokharan-II and reverse the course of nuclear weaponisation.
Abandon the option of further nuclear weapon testing under an Act of Parliament.
No nuclear weapon tests - explosive or subcritical
No production of weapon-grade fissile material
Protect minorities from Pokharan-II fallout.
Spend on national development, not nuclear madness.
Promote India-Pakistan amity and regional peace for real security.
Return to the international camp and campaign for peace and universal nuclear disarmament.

OUR PLEDGE

WE, ON BEHALF OF THE PEACE-LOVING PEOPLE OF INDIA, PROTEST ONCE AGAIN AGAINST POKHARAN-II AND ALL THAT IT SYMBOLISES.

WE PLEDGE TO STRUGGLE FOR THE REVERSAL OF THE PROCESS SET IN MOTION BY THE NUCLEAR WEAPON TESTS OF MAY 1988.

WE PLEDGE TO STRIVE RELENTLESSLY FOR PEACE AND AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN INDIA, IN THE SUBCONTINENT AND IN THE WORLD.

Organisations represented in the Movement Against Nuclear Weapons

* Journalists Against Nuclear Weapons
* Indian Scientists Against Nuclear Weapons-Chennai Chapter
* Tamil Nadu Science Forum
* Campaign Committee Against Nuclear Weapons
* All-India Peace and Solidarity Organisation
* All-India Trade Union Congress
* Centre of Indian Trade Unions
* All-India Coordination Committee of Trade Unions
* All-India Insurance Employees' Association
* Bank Employees Federation of India
* All-India Bank Employees' Association
* All-India Catholic University Federation
* Don Bosco Institute of Communication Arts
* Physicians for Peace
* National Alliance of People's Movements
* National Federation of Indian Women
* All-India Democratic Women's Association
* All-India Progressive Women's Association
* Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
* Forum for Women's Rights and Development
* Mottukkal
* Tamilnadu Muslims Munnetra Kazhagam
* All-India Students Association
* Students' Federation of India
* All-India Students' Federation
* Democratic Youth Federation of India
* All India Youth Federation
* Revolutionary Youth Association
* Tamilnadu Progressive Writers' Association
* Tamilnadu Government Employees' Association
* Tamil Nadu Government Employees' Union
* People's Union for Civil Liberties * Legal Education Aid Society

Earlier, on May 6, 2000, the MANW, in association with the All India Insurance Employees' Association (AIIEA), released a slide show prepared by a group of artists, scientists and journalists. The presentation, titled "Hiroshima can happen here" and with commentaries in Tamil and English, seeks to bring out for the understanding of wide sections of the public the horrendous implications of the nuclear bomb and uses documented historical and scientific data. The movement hopes the slide show will be taken advantage of in the coming months by different organisations to spread the message of peace and sanity among their constituents, institutions and neighbourhoods.

The Journalists Against Nuclear Weapons (JANW) had similarly taken the initiative in 1999 for the formation of a May 11 Committee comprising various mass organisations, which successfully organised a human chain protest programme on the occasion of the first anniversary of Pokharan-II at the Panagal Park in the city.

In the one year period since then, the JANW organised several programmes, on its own and often in cooperation with other institutions/organisations and these have helped spread the anti- nuclear message among various sections of the public.

Such programmes included a seminar-cum-film show on "cinema for peace" organised by the JANW in association with the Don Bosco Institute of Communication Arts (DBICA) at the latter's premises in Chennai on December 17, 1999, a discussion session on the book "South Asia on A Short Fuse" (authored by Achin Vanaik and Praful Bidwai) jointly with MIND (Movement for Nuclear Disarmament in India, New Delhi) and the Oxford University Press on December 29, 1999, a meeting organised jointly with the Campaign Committee Against Nuclear Weapons (CCANW) and the Indian Scientists Against Nuclear Weapons- Chennai Chapter, on September 25, 1999, on "nuclear doctrine for the millennium", a seminar on "lessons from Hiroshima" in asociation with the CCANW and the Russian Cultural Centre (August 20, 1999) and observance of Hiroshima Day jointly with the CCANW and AIIEA (August 6, 1999).

The JANW hopes that its bimonthly bulletin with five issues published so far and disseminated among members and fraternal organisations will do its bit in spreading relevant information and in-depth understanding of nuclear and peace issues.