NBA rally in MP ends peacefully State government criticised for deployment of police personnel
By Shailesh Pandya
VADODARA: The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) rally at Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh ended on Tuesday without any untoward incident. Programmes of raising slogans and launching of dharna by pro-dam activists continued in villages of Gujarat bordering Madhya Pradesh.
The NBA sources told The Times of India that ongoing programme of satyagraha at Jalsindhi and Domkhedi in Maharashtra would continue. Activists claimed that their rally programme had received good response while pro-dam activists and other sources said it was not so.
According to the NBA, over 500 people, including project-affected, took part in the rally. They came by buses, jeeps and trucks to reach Jalsindhi via Alirajpur, Kakrana, Bhakatgarh and Mathwad in Madhya Pradesh.
On refusal to provide a smooth passage by the Gujarat government, the NBA activists used the MP route to reach the rally site. Though the NBA denies using Hafeshwar route for going to Jalsindhi, the fact remains that Jhabua district collector had pleaded with the Gujarat government to allow the activists to use Hafeshwar route to reach Jalsindhi. The Gujarat government contended that it was not a safe route as Naramada river was in spate.
Organiser of the rally and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy and others preferred walking to realise the seriousness of the issue in depth and extend support to tribals who always travel by foot. Another group, including old people, travelled by boat to Jalsindhi.
All rallyists were warmly welcomed by villagers and satyagrahis, including Medha Patker, at Jalsindhi, who were eagerly waiting for their arrival. All were to attend public meetings at Jalsindhi and Domkhedi before returning to Indore.
The NBA criticised the Gujarat government for making hue and cry and deployment of over 200 police personnel, including Vadodara district collector Anil Mukim and DSP Vivek Srivastava at various places between Kawant and Hafeshwar.
It strongly condemned the high-handed paranoid behaviour of the Gujarat government. There was no plan for rally to come through Kawant and Hafeshwar. The NBA and organisers of the rally had announced time and again that their route to Jalsindhi would be through Kakrana in Madhya Pradesh and not through Hafeshwar. They said that Gujarat government and vested interests had been raising a non-issue and trying to whip up frenzy for no reasons.
A jeep (MOB 9957), owned by the NBA, was seized by the police at Kawant in Gujarat. There were no papers or driver inside the jeep except an NBA activist standing nearby. Kawant police sub-inspector HM Tadvi detained the jeep under Section 207 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The NBA activist was Jagdishbhai Bhagwanbhai Patidar, 46, native of Bhavariya village under Kukshi taluka of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. He was allowed to go after interrogation by the Gujarat police.
Several scribes, who went to cover this rally, faced some problems which they narrated after returning to Hafeshwar. Mr Mukim, Mr Srivastava and police personnel camped in the area for constant monitoring of the situation. The government sources told this correspondent that bandobast would continue in the area for a couple of days.
The pro-dam activists continued their programme of raising slogans in support of the project at Renudha-Jambli, Ferkuva and Kadipani bordering Madhya Pradesh for preventing the NBA activists from trying to sneak into Gujarat. Such activists from several non-government organisations, including Manga Bharti, Rangpur Ashram and RCC, went to Delhi and organised programmes in support of the project. The SSP oustees rehabilitated in Kundi, Unachakalam , Dormal, Gamdi, Paniya, Surya and Bhadrali also took part. They said they had received benefits of the packages offered to them.
The pro-dam rally was led by Navnitbhai Shah. People from parched areas of Kutch, Saurashtra and north Gujarat took part in this rally.