Legal Notice Served To M.P. Dy Chief Minister Jamuna Devi
By NBA and Medha Patkar : 'Apologise Or Face Legal action'
The Madhya Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Ms. Jamuna Devi was served a legal
notice to publicly retract the baseless and untrue allegations levelled
against Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar and tender an unconditional
apology within a week of the receipt of the legal notice. Failing this, the
notice warned her of initiating the "appropriate legal proceedings
including the defamation complaint". The noted lawyer Mr. Prashat Bhushan
has sent the legal notice on April 11, 2001.
Ms. Jamuna Devi was reported to have made several defamatory allegations on
Narmada Bachao Andolan and Ms. Medha Patkar, which were published in the
Marathi daily, Lokmat (Dt.9.2.2001), at Kopargaon in Maharashtra where she
addressed the press and the public. Ms. Jamuna Devi reportedly called
Medha Patkar "a stooge of foreign powers to create barriers in the development
activities in our country." She also false allegations of foreign funding
on NBA and as a "shop to deceive the tribals".
The legal notice to Ms. Jamuna Devi made it clear that "the NBA has never
received foreign funding in last approximately seventeen years of its
existence. In fact the money associated with various national and
international prizes conferred Medha Patkar had either been declined
acceptance by my Ms Medha Patkar or donated by her for the benefit of
general public purposes/causes". The NBA also has denied vehemently other
reported defamatory allegations by Ms. Jamuna Devi, against the NBA and
Medha Patkar as being false, baseless and untrue.
After the Supreme Court majority judgement of allowing the unfettered work
on the Sardar Sarovar dam, the Madhya Pradesh government has been trying to
displace the project affected families from the tribal and non-tribal
areas, flagrantly violating the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute
Tribunal (NWDT). Though it has pleaded non-availability of the agricultural
land for resettlement for the project affected people in the state, it is
trying to evict them with the cash compensation. The state government,
through the intemperate pronouncement and behaviour of elements like Ms.
Jamuna Devi, has been trying to impose the displacement and submergence on
the people. There has been increase in the defamatory statements and
repressive tactics by the pro-dam elements to suppress the unrelenting
struggle in the Narmada valley, which is continuing despite the
adversities. The M.P. government has been trying to suppress the people's
struggles for the justice in the state, including those in the Maheshwar,
Mann and Sardar Sarovar areas in the Narmada valley, with the systematic
campaign of defamation and police repression.
The pro-dam elements have tried, in past, to defame the NBA and Medha
Patkar. However, the Gujarati newspaper 'Gujarat Samachar' had to retract
its allegations and issue apology in early 1990s. The NBA filed a
defamation case against the Indian Express and the so-called 'National
Council of Civil Liberties' of Ahmedabad, who had given a defamatory
advertisement in the newspapers.
The NBA will be confronting these repressive tactics and the struggle in
the valley against the unjust, illegal displacement and destruction will
further intensify despite these tactics of powerholders.