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Monday, September 20, 1999

NBA alleges police brutality

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE  
VADODARA, Sept 19: Narmada Bachao Andolan has alleged that the police used force on Saturday evening while arresting 150 satyagrahis -- including Medha Patkar, Devrambhai Kanera, Kamlubehen Yadav and Rania Daya -- from Pipalchop village.

The satyagrahis were in waist-deep water for several hours before a 110-strong police contingent barged into the lowest house, breaking a wall, and dragged out the satyagrahis, NBA alleged in a statement on Sunday. About 135 NBA activists who resisted the police pressure were pulled out with force.

The arrested have been taken to Dhadgaon where Patkar is undergoing a fast in police custody. The other satyagrahis have also refused to take food and are sitting on a dharna demanding their release and asked to be taken to satyagrah centres.

Meanwhile, more than 400 people have gathered in Domkhedi, near the satyagrah house where the Samarpit Dal members are standing in 1.5 feet water since Saturday, NBA's Nandini Oza said.

The satyagrahis at Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh are also sitting in the lowest house with the river closing in on the house. The activists who were released after their arrest on Friday have also joined the protest at Bharad, Domkhedi and Sikka. Several fields and houses are under water in many villages of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, inflicting severe damage to property.

The NBA has claimed that people from the plains, tribal areas and even from the submergence area of Maheshwar dam are joining the protest as the water-level continued to rise. There were protests at Pune, Mumbai, Bhopal and Nagpur, and supporters from all over the country are appealing to the government to stop destructive development, the NBA said.

The activists also begun a relay fast from Saturday in front of the district collector's office in Badwani. Giving a new dimension to the protest against the government's reported anti-people development programmes, representatives of several people's movements, writers, students, artists and intellectuals from all parts of the country began a week-long yatra, holding public meetings and programmes against the Sardar Sarovar Project, and in support of the NBA movement.

The rallyists will meet the President at New Delhi on Monday, and appeal him to take note of the human rights violation of thousands of tribal families. Oza said release of water from Barna, Tawa and Bargi dams added to the already bleak situation due to heavy rain in Jabalpur and Hoshangabad.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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