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NBA protesters arrested to foil satyagraha at Jalsindhi
Ashutosh Shukla
(Jalsindhi (Jhabua), August 25)

Hundreds of tribal people and some noted anti-dam personalities, including human rights activist Justice Rajendra Sachar, were detained by the Gujarat police on MP-Gujarat border at village Kawath near Bakathgarh in Gujarat and other nearby places to prevent them from reaching the satyagraha site on the banks of Narmada river on Thursday.

Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy and filmmaker Jharna Jhaveri along with some TV crews, however, managed to hoodwink the police and reached the satyagraha venue from Kakarana village after an arduous six-hour boat journey.

The satyagraha was part of the Narmada Bachao Andolan's programme “Appeal to the Nation from Valley - Saga of Narmada.” The NBA has organised this programme in Domkhedi village of Maharashtra and Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh to protest the Sardar Sarovar Dam construction.

Jalsindhi, the centre point of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, is one of the first villages of Madhya Pradesh to be submerged once the dam was constructed.

Heavy police bandobast had been made here. Though the visiting journalists could reach the spot, outsiders were being subjected to thorough checks.

The satyagraha site is surrounded by gorgeous hills, exotic forests and maze fields with Narmada flowing quietly nearby. The NBA had arranged a few boats to take the participants to the satyagraha spot. The boats ferried people from one bank to another despite police vigil.

The dancing and singing tribals present here once again resolved not to allow the construction of dam. They, led by Ms Patkar, besides other NBA functionaries, converged on the spot since early morning. The satyagrahis also urged them not to leave their village and be prepared to get submerged.

The rising height of the dam in Gujarat has increased the water levels following good rains in the catchment areas in the past few days. On Thursday also, it rained for some time and the satyagraha site was almost rendered inaccessible. The danger of being submerged anytime looms large on Jalsindhi, and the fear was writ large on the faces of tribals. A large number of them came from the nearby hamlets to lend support to their Jalsindhi brethren.

Addressing the motley crowd of the project-affected people, Ms Medha Patkar said that with the submergence of the village and areas around, centuries-old traditions and culture of tribal life would be finished besides causing irreparable damage to the ecology. Speaking to tribals in as many as five local dialects, Ms Patkar asked them not to give up hope and continue to fight against the SSP dam.


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