She has been among them several times in the past. Yet on Thursday afternoon when Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy succeeded in reaching this remote village by giving Vadodara police a slip, one could not escape the excitement on the faces of the Project
Affected Persons of the Sardar Sarovar Project and supporters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
As the PAPs and the anti-dam activists sang mein to daudi chali aaye Narmadame
(I came running to Narmada), Ms Roy stepped onto the huge pandal amid a round of applause. She was here to attend a NBA-sponsored meeting Saga of Narmada, as part of its on
going satayagraha at Domkhedi in Maharashtra and Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh. The NBA is protesting against what it terms as unjust submergence of land due to the Sardar Sarovar Project.
The villagers did not know much about her. All they could comprehend was that she is some big person. She is an acclaimed writer and is here to give a boost to the andolan, said Tanaji Pawara from Dhadgaon.
Talking about Greater Common Good, Ms Roy said the book is a weapon to fight for the cause of the PAPs. As nearly 1,000 villagers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh narrated their woes, she condemned the manner in which NBA supporters were
detained in Vadodara and over 300 stopped from proceeding further at Ferkuva and Kadipani. They were detained on the apprehension of breach of peace.
The governments act is unforgivable, she told The Asian Age. Expressing concern over the state of affairs, Ms Roy said it is strange that on one hand chief ministers whack their tails when Veerappan demands release of water from Cauvery but nobody
listens to the people fighting for their right since 15 years.
The scheduled public hearing could not be held due to detention of former Delhi high court Justice Rajendra Sachar, noted lawyer Haroobhai Mehta and human rights lawyer Girish Patel in Vadodara. However, this did not come in way of reiterating resolve of
the group to fight till the end.
We have been reduced to beggars, Natu Rathwa of Turkheda claimed, alleging that the claims of appropriate resettlement were totally wrong. NBA leader Medha Patkar feared that many more villages would submerge in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat,
as markings in the affected villages were wrong. She said an independent study would be undertaken to ascertain the number of villages likely to be submerged.
At a meeting that continued till Thursday late evening, the affected persons spoke on a host of issues. Several foreigners, some of them supporters of the movement, students and three Green Peace members attended the meeting.
MeanVarious organisations from all over the country, including the Amnesty International, have criticised the state government for detaining 34 people, heading for the NBA meeting, in Vadodara on Thursday.
In a statement here on Friday, M.K. Sukumar and Sanjay Sangvai of the NBA said that in a communiqué to chief minister Keshubhai Patel, the Amnesty International has drawn attention to Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The
articles state that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
People's Union for Civil Liberties, the Vadodara Kamdar Union, Sahiyar and the Inqualibi Communist Sangathan has condemned violating the rights of minorities, dalits and tribals. They called for a reconsideration of the Project on the basis of issues
raised by the NBA.