The arrested activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), including novelist Arundhati Roy, were released in Mandleshwar today.
The release was preceded by a heated argument between the activists and district collector Bhupal Singh over the shifting of the activists to a makeshift jail nearby.
The NBA activists who had gathered in Jalud village of the Khargone district on Tuesday to protest the construction of the Maheshwar Hydel Power Project dam were arrested for violating the prohibitive orders. Tension prevailed in the village, situated on
the banks of the Narmada river. The police had tough time in dealing with the high-profile activists.
According to eyewitnesses, one of the activists and Delhi-based filmmaker, Ms Jharna Jhaveri, on being arrested, shouted at the local officials, including the DM.
The Collector, who was not wearing shoes while deliberating with the activists, received the flak from Ms Jhaveri who has recently jumped the bandwagon of the NBA.
Sources said that when the local officials were persuading the arrested activists to move to the jail, heated exchanges took place and Ms Jhaveri commented: “I don’t want to talk to a person who is not properly dressed,” forgetting that most of the NBA
activists, unlike herself, were barefooted.
Sources said that though Ms Roy kept her cool, Ms Jhaveri was shouting at the officials wondering “why were they all so polite to the activists.”
Sources said that she was perplexed to get an unexpected answer from Mr Singh that “this is the only way we have been brought up to speak”.
The NBA has been waging a war against the S. Kumars-sponsored hydel project promising about 400 mw power once the multi-crore project was completed. However, withdrawal by two German funding agencies has put the entire project in jeopardy.