NBA Press Release
  06 April 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Dharna Continues on 21st day : Seven people from Delhi join indefinite fast.

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Medha Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave forcibly removed to medical institute after 12:00 am last night

Last night, at around 11:30pm, a force of more than 400 police swamped Jantar Mantar, forcefully and roughly attacking the satyagrahis who were peacefully sitting on their 20th day of dharna. Medha Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave, on their 8th day of indefinite fast, were arrested, forcefully lifted and taken in an ambulance to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. They have both maintained their fast, Medha refusing IV and taking only lime juice. Meanwhile, over fifty Narmada Bachao activists were arrested, dragged, beaten up and taken to the Parliament Street Police Station where they were harassed and detained until 4:40am this morning. The manner in which they were treated was in complete violation of democratic norms and human rights.

The unexpectedly copious breadth of police presence and brutality at the site was met with determined resistance. Many people were beaten including Kailash Awasya, Arun from Bombay and women from the Mandala slum in Bombay. The high-handedness of police was well reported on several mainstream media channels as it occurred, and coverage continued until well past 2am. The movement is strong and continues to pressure those accountable into forcing the justice of rehabilitation to be carried out. Only in response to such pressure would police be mobilised in such great force. The government^s move was clearly out of panic rather than concern for Medha^s health, as they have still not stopped the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam and have isolated her within AIIMS, not allowing anyone to meet her.

Today the dharna continues strong at Jantar Mantar. Bhagwati Patidam is in her 9th day of her fast, as she is remaining at the dharna site. Bhama Bhai and Raja Kalla, also from the valley, are in their fourth day of fasting, while today seven more people from Delhi have joined them. This group includes: Mona Das, President JNUSU; Dananjaoi Tripathi, Vice President JNUSU; Avadhesh from All India Students^ Association; and, JNU Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy. The Bhopal victims, who are sitting across the road in a dharna of their demands for human rights, are performing a symbolic solidarity day-long fast in support as well. Still hundreds of people are at Jantar Mantar, putting pressure on the government to heed the calls of Medha and the dharna, and hundreds more are arriving today.

With pressure mounting from vast media coverage and exposure of the concerns of the people, three ministers are leaving today to visit the valley where they will review the status of rehabilitation first hand and the rationality of construction. The delegation includes Minister for Water Resources, Professor Saifuddin Soz, the Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Ms Meira Kumar, and State Minister from the PMO, Shri Prithyiraj Chauhal. This is a symbolic step as the claims of the villagers and adivasis can^t be denied when they are seen visually manifest in the live communities.

Tonight there is a candlelight procession being held in Bangalore, with a solidarity fast being held there on Saturday. There have been various vigils and rallies across India, including four in the valley to which 200 tribal people gathered for each, and throughout many cities including Pune, Bombay and Trivandrum. There has been a huge outpouring of support worldwide. Tomorrow, more than 70 scientists and engineers associated with IITs and universities across India and the US will undertake a one-day solidarity fast, following the release of a Scientists and Engineers' Open Challenge to SSP claims in which more than 250 prominent scientists and engineers slammed the Sardar Sarovar engineers for projecting unrealistic power benefits and luring state governments into ignoring the rehabilitation of 35,000 families in the submergence zone of the dam.

We strongly condemn the brutal and illegal action of the Indian State and its attempts to suppress the non-violent struggle for justice. We urgently demand:

  • The immediate release of Medha Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave
  • Criminal case registered against the Police Officials who brutally beatup the activists
  • Immediate halting of the construction of the dam
  • Removal of all false charges, if any, against Medha Patkar
  • Just and proper resettlement and rehabilitation of all affected people as per Supreme Court judgement of 2000 and 2005 and the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award.

    We caution the government that all these demands be taken with utmost seriousness lest we lose complete faith in the state institutions.

    Dipti Bhatnagar Shivani Chaudhry Yogini Khanolkar