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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : NBA activists on way to satyagraha arrested

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Thursday, August 24, 2000


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NBA activists on way to satyagraha arrested

By Our Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD, AUG. 23. Five Narmada Bachao Andolan activists were arrested in Baroda while on their way to Badwani this morning to participate in a ``Saga of Narmada'' satyagraha at Jalsindhi and Domkhedi villages, scheduled for tomorrow.

A NBA spokesman in Baroda said among those arrested were Mr. Joe Athialy, an NBA activist in Baroda, Mr. Geo of the National Alliance of People's Movement from Kerala, Mr. Yesudas from Chennai, Ms. Veena and Ms. Anu, both from Bangalore. All of them reached Baroda last night to proceed to Jalsindhi, first village in the Narmada valley in Madhya Pradesh likely to be submerged if water level in the Sardar Sarovar dam is raised.

A Gujarat government spokesman, however, denied knowledge of the arrests. But the NBA spokesman said the activists were picked up about a km from the NBA office and detained in the police lock-up at Gorwa.

The activists refused to accept any food, demanding to know reasons for the arrest. The police initially refused to give any reason, but yielded after Mr. Justice Rajinder Sachar, retired judge of the Delhi High Court, who was in Baroda on his way to Jalsindhi, called on the arrested activists. The police said the arrests were aimed at maintaining ``peace and tranquillity'' and made at the ``request'' of the Madhya Pradesh Government.

The NBA spokesman said the police was keeping a watch on the NBA office in Baroda and were unlikely to allow the activists, expected to reach there from different parts, to proceed to participate in the satyagraha being staged as part of the NBA's plans to highlight the ``unjust'' construction of the dam.

Besides Mr. Justice Sachar, the booker prize winner, Ms. Arundhati Roy, the veteran journalists, Mr. Darryl D'Monte, Ms. Vidya Bal, the veteran Gandhian, Mr. Jyotibhai Desai, the jurists, Mr. Colin Gonsalves and Mr. Girish Patel, the artist Ms. Anita Dube, the filmmaker Jharna Jhaveri, the noted author, Mr. Ramdas Bhatkal, the mathematician Dr. Mangala Narlikar have agreed to take part in the agitation.

The NBA said the arrests were yet another anti-people and reactionary manifestation of state power to suppress constitutional and democratic rights. It appealed to the President and the Prime Minister to make the Gujarat Government ``respect the rule of law and the Constitution.''

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