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Press Note/3.4.99

HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH OF NARMADA OUSTEES DRAWS SUPPORT FOR ITS FUTURE STRUGGLE ON ITS WAY TO MUMBAI

Impressive Programmes in Malegaon, Niphad and Nashik

The people in the Narmada valley undertaking the Manavadhikar Yatra accused the Gujarat government of deliberate attempts to defame the non-violent struggle of the oustees, mostly with the intention to influence the mind of the Supreme Court and prepare a ground to suppress the people's movement. The people were on the third lag of the March, which has started from Badwani ( M.P.) and reached in Nashik on the third day. Over two and half thousands of men and women were warmly welcomed by number of people's organisations, institutions in and around Nashik on Saturday ( March 3) afternoon. The organisations resolved to extend all the help to the struggle of the people in the Narmada valley against the unjust displacement and destruction.


The Yatra was welcomed by Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat, Chhatrabharati, Rashtra Seva Dal, Ekata Samiti and number of other organisations alongwith prominent people in the city. They expressed full solidarity with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and its quest for justice. They also condemned the anti-people attitude of government of Maharashtra and that of the union government as they had submitted false affidavits regarding the resettlement and displacement in the Narmada valley, thereby facilitating the permission by the Supreme Court to restart the work on the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).


The thousands of people took out a rally through the main streets of the city. They held corner meetings at various places before gathering for the public meeting. Earlier, the Yatra held demonstrations and public meeting in Niphad, the onion bowl of Maharashtra, appealing the peasants to join in the struggle of the peasants in the Narmada valley to save their lands, forests, villages and their rights. They were welcomed by number of organisations including the Azadi Bachao Andolan, Rashtra Seva Dal, various organisations of dam and other project affected people in and around Niphad.


The main activists, including Medha Patkar, Noorji Padvi, Govindbhai and others decried the attempts by the Gujarat, Maharashtra and Union governments to oust the people with the threat of submergence. They expressed the resolve that the people in the valley would withstand the attempts by the government to forcibly displace them with the threat of submergence.


On previous evening, that is on March 2, a city march and public meeting was held in Malegaon. In the meeting, where the Member of Legislative Assembly, Mr. Nihal Ahmed confessed that all the political parties had made mistake in supporting such ill-advised project as the SSP and promised on behalf of the town to extend all the help to the Andolan.


Meanwhile, there has been a systematic attempt on the part of Gujarat government to defame the people's movement and deflect the attention of the nation from the real issues raised by the NBA during its fourteen year long non-violent struggle. The villagers later made it clear that there had been no attack on the Gujarat government official in village Chhota Badada as was widly publicised by the Gujarat government. The charge was fake and mischievous and was intended to malign the image of the Andolan. The Gujarat government has been acting systematically and in well planned manner to create bias in the mind of the apex court. This has been the attempt of Gujarat government in and out of the court even on previous occassions, instead of facing the main issues raised by the NBA petitions. Even in the final hearing, the Gujarat lawyer spent most of his time in NBA bashing, that too on fictitious grounds. Had the Court taken the trouble to in deep about these accusations, the anti-people acts of the Centre and Gujarat governments would have been exposed in the Court itself. In fact, this is a poor attempt by Gujarat government to camouflage the serious violations of the oustees' democratic and human rights and the government's total failure to resettle the people fully according to the rules and laws. The people would expose these spurious attempts on the part of Gujarat government.


The Yatra, after the public meeting in Nashik, will be proceeding to Thane, a district near Mumbai, also a centre of number of people's movements in Konkan region. They would arrive in Mumbai on 4th evening and will have a joint programme with the fishworkers' organisation in Mahim. They would hold a dharna in Azad Maidan against the false claims made by the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court regarding the displacement and resettlement.


SANJAY SANGVAI