The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following press release from the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Asian Human Rights Commission
A Press Release from Narmada Bachao Andolan forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
For Immediate Release: 1 November 2009
While the Madhya Pradesh State Government continues its attempts to hound activists and the displaced who are asserting the basic right of thousands of farmers, adivasis and others for a just and fair rehabilitation, there has been an air of overwhelming disdain against the undemocratic attitude of the state government from various quarters of the civil-society. The ongoing protest by the NBA is mainly against the failure of the state government in implementing the directions of the High Court of Jabalpur that has ordered rehabilitation of the displaced persons and families who have lost their land and house to the Narmada Dam Project.
On the fourth day, hundreds of protestors continue to sit-in at Khandwa demanding the unconditional release of the activists against whom the police has foisted false cases. Various people’s organisations have stated that the government’s actions are a violation of the people’s fundamental rights and that it shatters the faith of the common citizens in democratic values.
In yet another malicious attempt, the police registered a case under Section 333 of the Indian Penal Code against the activists, accusing them of causing ‘grievous hurt’ to the government employees. This is nothing short of abuse of law. On the other hand, the state itself is feely indulging in the contempt of court. Such actions by the government have resulted in the people losing their faith in the state administration.
Interestingly, the District Collector Office Employees’ Union, had submitted a memorandum to Ms. Medha Patkar and others on 31-10-2009 stating that neither did the activists enter any room in the Collector’s premises nor did they indulge in any destruction of property. The leader of the Union Mr. Giriraj Singh Senar stated that a group of 100-150 men and women tried to enter the office from the southern side and there was an altercation with the some employees and an attempt to cause hurt was alleged. The NBA’s lawyers, Advocate Vikas Jain and Advocate Jitendra Jain, clarified that the memo by the employees clearly shows that the activists and the protesters, who were only peacefully demonstrating, have committed no offence. This proves that the government version is a conspiracy only to deflect the focus from the real issue of providing land and livelihood based rehabilitation.
Many activists of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties who assembled at the National Executive Meet in Ranchi yesterday passed a resolution condemning the arrests as unwarranted and called for the immediate release of the activists. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi also wrote to the District Collector, Khandwa and sought the release of the illegally detained NBA activists who are genuinely demanding for rehabilitation as ordered by the court.
There have been different protest actions in various parts of the state today. Samajwadi Jan Parishad (SJP) and Kranti Hammal Union organised a protest meet in Harda at Narayan Talkies Chowk in support of the activists and submitted a representation addressed to the Chief Minister to the District Collector. The General Secretary of the SJP and senior activist Sunil termed the arrest as nothing less than gross judicial contempt and came down heavily upon the government’s callous approach.
Similarly, a delegation comprising of veteran educationalist Prof. R. D. Prasad, artist Saroj Kumar, Chinmay Mishra of Sarvoday Press Service, Amlya Nidhi of Shilpi Kendra and Rakesh Chandore of Jhuggi Basti Sanghasrh Morcha, representing many concerned citizens and organisations of Indore met the Commissioner and conveyed their strong condemnation of the attitude of the Khandwa administration. They said that the government’s actions are not only against the court’s directives but also violates the constitutional rights of people. The citizens of Jabalpur included Satyam from Nagrik Adhikar Manch, activists of Bargi Bandh Visthapait evam Prabhavit Sangh and others submitted a memo to the Jabalpur District Collector addressed to the Chief Minister thus registering their protest.
A delegation from Jan Pehal including Yogesh Diwan, Ms. Sarika Sinha, Sushma, Deepak Bhatt and Sunil of Kisan Adivasi Sanghatan who had participated in the protest in Khandwa yesterday met the State Human Rights Commission once again today afternoon and provided the latest information on the continuing persecution of the activists by the state. Calling it a matter of serious concern, the Commission assured the delegation that it would initiate action based on the reports the Commission receive from the district administration by Wednesday.
In Badwani, many persons affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project took out a 300-strong motorcycle rally through the main streets and a memorandum was handed over to the Tehsildar, addressed to the Chief Minister. Activists of Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan also sent a letter to the Chief Minister through the Badwani Collector and expressed solidarity with the struggle of the displaced. Today evening the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha took out a mass ‘mashaal juloos’ (torchlight rally) to express solidarity with the struggle of the displaced in the Narmada valley. Notably, 500 more citizens have signed the online petition in the last 24 hours and demanded release of the jailed activists.
Women and children, in large numbers at the place of protest are conveying a strong message to the state government that they will not tolerate violation of their rights. Activists also performed skits depicting the anti-people ways of the government.
Sangita Kanera, Gajraj Singh and Ashish Mandloi
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Mr. Rehmat +91 9300833001
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