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Narmada activists allege police brutality - [May 1,1998] - The Hindustan Times
May 1,1998
New Delhi


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Narmada activists allege police brutality
NEW DELHI, April 30 (HTC)

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has demanded immediate suspension of the Superintendent of Police and Collector in the Narmada valley area in connection with the alleged police brutalities on the protesters on April 22.

An independent enquiry into the matter has also been sought.

They have also demanded that the work on the Maheshwari dam be immediately stopped besides urging the Madhya Pradesh Government to carry on with the review process.

The NBA activists in a Press conference here today stated that despite police brutalities, the people of the valley will continue their protests unabated.

Describing the alleged police action on the peaceful protesters, Mr Sanjay Sanvaai, an activist said that in the early hours of April 22, over 5,000 men and women descended on the dam site to protest against the construction.

Without any provocation, the police and the administration descended upon the area and the people were lathi-charged and the mounted police caused severe injuries to the demonstrators, he said. "The police beat the men mercilessly while the women were molested, people were dragged into the police vans and several of them have been detained by the police unconstitutionally," Mr Sanvaai alleged. He said that more than 30 people have been admitted in various hospitals while 500 people have been arrested.

The Maheshwari project, the first privatised hydro-power project in India has been given to M/s S. Kumars who-are executing it in collaboration with multinational companies like Asean Brown Boveri, Siemens and Pac-Gen.

The people in the Narmada valley have been opposing the construction of the dam on the grounds that more than 25,000 peopIe will be displaced.

The NBA said that the people of the valley have been betrayed as the government has gone back on its word to review the construction of the dam. The review of the dam was announced on Jan. 30 this year. The government did a volte face in March and allowed the work on the dam to be restarted, it said.

Mr Sanvaai said that the heavy police bandobast on the dam site clearly shows that the state machinery is meant for serving the purpose of private companies only.

"How long can they deter us by these heavy-handed tactics? It is our land and we will continue to agitate against the move to throw us out of it," he added.