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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : No clues to NBA office looting

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Saturday, December 11, 1999


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No clues to NBA office looting

By Our Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD, DEC. 10. No clue has still been found to the ransacking and looting of the office of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in Baroda in Gujarat allegedly by a gang of six persons.

Mr. Raghuvirsingh Raghuvanshi of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, a NBA activist, who sustained minor knife injuries in the attack was released from hospital after treatment.

The office was also used as the residence by some NBA activists operating from Baroda but at the time of the attack late last night, Mr. Raghuvanshi was all alone with another activist, Mr. Sukumar being away at Vadwani in M.P. According to a complaint filed by Mr. Raghuvanshi with the Baroda police, he was waken up by ringing of the door bell around 2 a.m. and, as he opened the door, two persons, their faces covered with masks, pushed him aside and entered the office premises at Ellora Park locality.

He was pinned down by a knife-waiving gangman after which four other masked men entered the office, ransacked the cupboards and other furnitures, made bonfire of some of the documents and later decamped with Rs 20,000 in cash kept in a locker.

All along during the 30 minute odd operation, the attackers kept yelling at Mr. Raghuvanshi in Gujarati that the NBA activists should stop campaigning against the Narmada dam and asked them to leave Gujarat immediately. The NBA activists were also threatened with dire consequences, if they continued with their anti-Narmada tirade.

According to a spokesman of the NBA, the office was receiving threats on telephone since October and though the police was informed about the threats, no action had so far been taken to provide protection to the NBA office and its activists.

This is the third time the NBA office in Baroda was attacked by the miscreants but, in the two occasions in 1990 and 1994, no looting was involved. On both occasions, the office files and documents were ransacked and the occupants threatened but in neither of the cases were the attackers identified. After the 1994 incident, the NBA leaders had even named some of the BJP leaders as involved in the attack, but the police failed to take any action. The NBA activists located in Baroda, its only regular office within Gujarat, are under increasing pressure after the leaders of the Maharashtra Shetkari Sangathan and its local off- shoot, the Narmada Jan Andolan, extended open support to the Narmada dam project and organised a symbolic ``kar seva'' at the Kevadiya Colony last week.

Both the Sangathan leader, Mr. Sharad Joshi, and his Congress(I) supporters including the former Union Minister, Mrs. Urmilaben Patel, are the known critics of Ms. Medha Patkar and her NBA.


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