NBA Press Note

April 11, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

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Supreme Court Again Comes Under Harsh Criticism On Narmada Verdict
Prominent People Ask Court To Make Them Party To Contempt Proceedings Against Patkar and Roy
Narmada Parikrama Concluded

Thousands of oustees from the Narmada valley along with the prominent social activists severely criticsed the Supreme Court verdict as 'anti-people' decision and have asked the Court to make them too the party to the contempt proceedings against Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy. This was declared at a large rally held at Indore on April 10, at the conclusion of the 'Narmada Sangharsha Parikrama'.

Along with many prominent people, the villagers sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India, asking him to make them party to the contempt proceedings regarding the Court ruling in Narmada case. They have asked as to why only Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy and Adv. Prashant Bhushan were singled out for the contempt notices, as thousands of the people from the valley and their supporters from all over India have publicly criticized and rejected the verdict of the Court and the anti-people, unconstitutional attitude of the court in the Narmada case. They said that they were ready to prove that their criticism of the Court has sound Constitutional basis. The Court had issued contempt notices to the three activists for leading a protest rally of Narmada oustees in front of the Supreme Court in November last year.

The Signatories include social activist Swami Agnivesh, Socialist ideologue Surendra Mohan, trade unionist tulsi Boda from Gujarat, former chairperson of National Commission on Women, Ms. Mohini Giri, leader of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Com. Janaklal Thakur, Dr. B.D. Sharma ( former Commissioner of SC/ST and chairman of Bharat Jan Andolan), senior journalist Prabhash Joshi, Prof. RVG Menon of Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Sanjay M.G., Vimalbhai and Suniti S.R., Sukhendu Bhattacharya, Anitha, Jacob Vadkancherry, Abhoy Singh and Lata P.M. from National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), Abdul Jabbar of Bhopal Gas Affected People's Organization, Adv. Bagdi Mahedrabhai and Rambhushan Agrawal from Indore.

The Indore meeting concluded the week-long 'Parikrama' from April 4-10, which covered number of villages in the plains of Nimad in the valley. At the conclusion, a large rally and public meeting was held in the heart of city, where about three thousand people gathered to express solidarity with the struggle. Various organizations from Madhya Pradesh like Adivasi Mukti Sanghatan, Samaj Pragati Sahayog, National Alliance of People's Movements, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, CMM and Ekalavya etc. also participated. The meeting condemned the recent killings of tribals in Dewas district by M.P. police.

Almost all the speakers harshly criticised the Narmada verdict by the Supreme Court. Terming it as 'shameful', Swami Agnivesh pointed out at the inability of the Supreme Court to restore the lives of the bonded labourers even after the 10-year-old verdict. Surendra Mohan made it clear that the wrong verdicts of the court could changed be as they were revised five times in the past by the Parliament and the state legislatures. Dr. Sunilam (MLA and Kisan Sangharsha Samiti) denounced the tactics of M.P. government about repressing the peasants and tribals.

Medha Patkar, along with the representatives from the valley emphasised the need for a coordinated struggle of peasants and tribals and other exploited classes to safeguard their right to life, livelihood and their resources. Devram Kanera, the senior activist conducted the meeting.

Mohan Patidar
Ashish Mandloi
Joe Athialy