DECCAN HERALD Sunday, January 16, 2000

Hunt on for shady aliens among NBA protestors


Madhya Pradesh police are on the lookout for five foreigners, who had disappeared after participating in last Tuesday`s Narmada Bachao Andolan-staged sit-in dharna against the Maheshwar hydel project.

Police had launched a manhunt for the foreigners in Jhabua, Badwani, Khargaon and Khandwa districts in Narmada valley, Khargaon Superintendent of Police Rajendra Kumar Vij told PTI here today.

The five, who had participated in the stir led by writer Arundhati Roy, had initially identified themselves as journalists but when their bio-datas were obtained, they were found to be members of some other organisations, Mr Vij said.

After the agitators were arrested, the foreigners disappeared and were found taking photographs and shooting sensitive areas of the dams in the valley, he said.

The embassies of the countries to which the foreigners belong were being approached for more information on them, he said.

Ms Roy and about 400 other activists were arrested when they tried to lay siege to the prohibited site of the project.

Ms Roy had left the valley after she was released on January 11, but the other activists, who were released along with the writer, are continuing their protest against their ''unlawful arrest and police harshness.``

Meanwhile, Nimad Jan Jagran Manch convenor Mubarik Pathan and Nimad Sarvoday spokesman Umesh Goswami in a statement lauded the district administration for its swift action against the agitators, but said it was unfortunate that the pro-dam groups were not permitted to hold counter-demonstration.

The action of not permitting the pro-dam demonstration had sent a wrong message to the people in the valley, they said in joint statement which asked ''Why should the government encourage anti-development forces?``

''If NBA repeated its mistake again, the people in the region would form a human chain around the dam site and come out on the streets``, they said in the release.

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