Tirunelveli (TN): Acting tough on those behind the over three-month long protest against Koodankulam nuclear power plant, police have booked several persons, including its leader SP Udhayakumar, a bishop, MDMK chief Vaiko and social activist Medha Patkar on different counts.

Police on Thursday said they have registered 76 cases for various offences including unlawful assembly, use of place of worship for propagating against the government, spreading rumours, instigating protests, preventing government employees from doing their work and public nuisance.

Bishop Yvon Ambrose and other priests of the Tuticorin diocese, who have pledged their support to the protest, demanding scrapping of the Rs 13,000 crore Indo-Russian projects, are among the accused named in the FIR, they said.

Cases have been registered under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, Police Regulation Act and CrPC, police said.

Besides Udhayakumar, convener of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMAE), police have also booked M Pushparayan, a member of the six-member committee set up by Tamil Nadu Government on the issue.

The registration of cases comes close on the heels of Minister of State in the PMK, V Narayanasamy's recent remarks that a probe had been ordered into various aspects of the agitation, including source of its funding.

Narayanasamy, the Centre's pointsman to resolve the standoff over the issue, had raised questions about how the movement was being sustained for such a long period.

According to police, the Christian priests were using places of worship for organizing the protests, which was against the law.

The premises of St Lourdes Church in Idinthakarai, the epicenter of the stir which has delayed the commissioning of the first reactor scheduled for next month, was being used as a protest venue, police said. Police said the Bishops of Roman Catholic sect and Church of South India were openly supporting the agitation which was now spreading to other areas including Valliyoor.

Police alleged the priests were instigating the locals against the project.

"Some are asking the people to revolt against the government and against the plant. This is unfair. The shops are closed, the life is not normal...this cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely," they said.

Besides Vaiko, PMK President G K Mani, Thol Thirumavalavan of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, DMDK MLA Michael Royappan and Medha Patkar are among those charged with taking part in the protest held without police permission, police said.

Police and the Income tax sleuths were also monitoring the bank accounts to prevent misuse of church funds for any other purpose, they said.

Meanwhile, the 15-member experts committee set up by the Centre to allay safety concerns of the local people, visited the plant site for the second day today.

The committee members yesterday scrutinised documents relating to the safety aspects of the plant and held detailed discussions with senior experts at the plant site, official sources said.

Atomic experts from Mumbai made a power point presentation explaining the salient features of the plant.

The committee members would be taken around the plant to enable them personally verify whether all safety features had been installed.