NBA Press Release
  25 April 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Counter to foreign-funding and sedition allegations against NBA

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

No enquiry into Narmada Bachao Andolan's funding ordered by any court, false reports will face legal action
The Government of India gives clean chit to NBA against charges of illegal foreign funding
The defamatory petition on 'sedition' will be heard May 8th 2007 at the Supreme Court

An utterly false vilification campaign against NBA & myself is on! This is, as claimed by them, initiated and carried forward by one Mr. V.K. Saxena, said to be representing National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL). He is one of the accused in the case filed based on an FIR filed by me, for the physical attack in Sabarmati Ashram and another case of defamation for the expensive advertisement published in many newspapers a few years ago. NCCL has now filed a petition charging NBA of 'sedition' apart from illegal foreign funding, violence using detonators, etc. and stalling a 'development' project.

The Supreme Court (Mr. Sabharwal, former Chief Justice) admitted the case, but refused to issue notice to me personally, inspite of having been made a party but issued notice to Narmada Bachao Andolan and other parties including state governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and the Union of India. NBA has replied to every allegation, which is false & baseless and challenged this interpretation of the non-violent peoples movement as violent and 'seditious'. The charge of foreign funding, claiming that we have accepted foreign awards illegally & received money through support organisations is also countered with all proof & data. Advocate Indira Jaising is pleading on behalf of NBA.

NBA has not, as our well-wishers know and as was publicly announced in 1990s, touched any money associated with the awards and do not have any foreign funded projects. Who questions foreign funding, when the governments, many political parties and their affiliates with very few exceptions, survive on the same (which we challenge as neo-liberal policy through our movements), is another core issue. To exemplify, questions have been raised on money collected by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and for the earth quake relief in Kutch as well as non-utilisation of funds for compensating the flood affected in Gujarat. It is ridiculous that while foreign investment at the cost of people’s rights, resources and sovereignty is followed as a core economic policy, a mass movement, sustained with meager resources, fighting for justice has been challenged throughout the last two decades mainly because the system and the vested interests see it as threat.

The state governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have filed their affidavits in which Gujarat has stated in one sentence, that a high level enquiry may be conducted. Madhya Pradesh has repeated the cases filed by itself (the police at local levels) while almost all of those are settled in favour of NBA activists, the affected people themselves. The state government itself has said that the cases are being taken of under the normal law.

The Central Government too filed its affidavit on April 17th in which it has referred to the two enquiries already conducted into the account books of NBA in 2000 & 2002 by the Ministry of Home Affairs and found nothing indicating violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The Central Government has annexed a letter by Shri Harin Pathak, then Minister of State for Home Affairs, dated August 2003, addressed to Narendra Modi, stating this conclusion in response to Mr. Modi's letter which is not enclosed. This proves that Gujarat Government concealed the facts regarding these earlier enquiries, while pleading for a fresh enquiry into NBA's sources of funds, without any argument justifying the same.

In relation to a few support organisations and Mr. Rahul Bannerjee (a freelance researcher, author) the petition has alleged that NBA receives funds from /through supporters illegally. NBA has already denied it forcefully and Mr.Bannerjee has submitted his audited accounts and various proofs, clarifying that he was never an activist if NBA. On this, the Government of India affidavit only mentions the trusts and two other organisations, supposedly supporters of NBA, that they do not have FCRA. No linkage, financial or otherwise is discussed in the GOI's affidavit. The GOI affidavit thus does not put any legal accusation against NBA. On the other hand, it brings out clearly that the earlier enquiry had also investigated into the accounts of NBA's support organisations and cleared them of any illegal utilization of funds for NBA.

The Union of India affidavit also expresses its opinion on Rehabilitation, saying there is no human rights violation involved in Sardar Sarovar Project. The Sardar Sarovar affected people in groups have already filed five cases including a contempt case against the Chairmen/chairwomen of various authorities & a case of intervention is also filed by 10 eminent persons including Dr. Upendra Baxi, Shri Kuldip Nayyar, Shri Swami Agnivesh, Ms. Aruna Roy. Dr. B. D. Sharma, Shri Harsh Mander, Ms. Kamla Bhasin, Shri Ramasamy Iyer, Dr. L.C. Jain & Shri Suhas Borker, which is being pleaded by Prof. Upendra Baxi, the eminent legal scholar himself. The issues related to Rehabilitation & displacement, are, therefore, not to be main issues in the sedition/defamation case.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice C.K. Thakker has not heard the case as yet & hearing is scheduled for 8th May 2007. Meanwhile the news item put out by PTI and reproduced in many Hindi, English & Marathi newspapers about "enquiry ordered" into funds of NBA/ Medha Patkar or "the accusation by GOI" etc. is utterly false & legally challengeable as criminal/defamatory. Narmada Bachao Andolan will take steps that are appropriate & necessary.

It is obvious that certain interests, corporates to political, would like to accuse NBA and sabotage the organisation and the genuine development issues it has been raising over the last two decades. But as earlier accusations have died down, time will prove that it is not easy to do so, especially as it continues to fight battles for human dignity, justice and people oriented development. We pledge to continue our non-violent battles legally and ethically – with help and support from all those people who believe in an egalitarian society.

Medha Patkar