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M-P villages scared after atrocities on protestors - [May 30,1998] - The Hindustan Times
May 30,1998
New Delhi


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M-P villages scared after atrocities on protestors
NEW DELHI, May 29 (HT Correspondent)

Villagers of Jalud near Mandleshwar town in Madhya Pradesh are living under constant fear after the brutal atrocities committed against women demonstrators at Maheshwar hydel project site last month.

The village is on the river Narmada in the Khagone district and the villagers were apprehensive that their land was under threat of submersion. They had been protesting against the project for a long time, under the aegis of Narmada Bachao Andolan.

As construction worker of the project resumed recently, without having received the task force report, the affected villagers decided to launch a satyagraha from April 22. According to the investigation team of the National Commission for Women (NCW), the villagers led by women protesters sat in a peaceful satyagraha at the construction site since early morning despite the fact that Section 144 was imposed there.

Speaking at a Press meet here today, the demonstrators who were caught in the 'violent exercise of power' by the police and administration, charged the Collector with using undue repression measures.

Despite the fact that there were women policemen, present although in a very small number policemen 'manhandled' the women protesters. They resorted to "ugly and merciless mischieves" of pulling and pushing the women demonstrators from the site and throwing away their belonging

The demonstrators were also allegedly beaten up and as a consequence in many cases the sarees and blouses of the women demonstrators tore up. While they were being pushed inside the buses to be taken to the jail, many women lost their jewellery during the jostling.

Men and women were housed together in the Maheshwar jail for several days. As many as 366 women along with 329 men were kept in this jail.

The day after this incident, a fresh batch of men and women collected at the dam site. As they were entering the area, it is claimed, the police became aggressive and started beating them up.

Along with the Special Task Force police, the cops started hurling sexual abuses before using teargas shells and firing in the air to disperse the crowd.

"Finally many men and women were driven into the river and were arrested from an island where they had taken refuge", said the NCW investigation team.

The violence on this day was more severe than the previous day Many demonstrators had to be hospitalised, in all 29 women and 224 men were kept in Khargone jail.