| NBA Press Release
|| 10 August 2003
Solidarity Team to Narmada Valley Harassed by Gujarat Police
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Dr. Angana Chatterji, scholar-activist and Board Member of the International Rivers Network, along with Professor Richard Shapiro of the California Institute of Integral Studies, Meenakshi Ganguly, correspondent with Time Magazine, and Sanjay Kapoor, a cinematographer, made a solidarity visit to the Narmada Valley. They visited Domkhedi, Jalsindhi, Nimgaon, met with Medha Patkar and other Andolan activists to collect testimonials about the submergence situation in the Valley.
As strong resistance intensifies in the valley with the Satyagraha gaining momentum against the destructive Sardar Sarovar dam, the police are trying to intimidate and harass the free citizens of this country who declare their solidarity with the dam-affected people in the Narmada valley.
On their way out of the Valley on August 9th , this team of four got off the boat near Kadipani (about 4 hours from Baroda), and were stopped by the police who had already taken custody of their car and papers and threatened the driver who was parked there from the day before. Angana Chatterji, Richard Shapiro, Meenakshi Ganguly and Sanjay Kapoor were asked to travel in their jeep with a constable for about 15 km to the sub-inspector's office where they were questioned and asked why they associated with Medha Patkar, who 'is a "problem" for Gujarat'. The police alleged that Angana Chatterji and the others had come to the Valley to create "disturbances". They were asked about the content of what they would be writing, why they were there, and informed by the police that where they had visited was a restricted area (which it is not) and required permission (which it does not), and that their presence was suspicious.
They were also categorically told that this is Modi's state and there are new rules here, and that the police have authority to detain and question those they deem suspicious. Before they left, the police wrote a report that they said they would send to the government. "This is another indication of mistreatment in Modi's Gujarat", said Angana Chatterji, where the state actively supports in the intimidation of the innocent, violence against minorities and adivasis, Hindutva extremism and mal-development".
"The Narmada Bachao Andolan is a prolific and ethical struggle, and must command our solidarity. The response of the state to the people affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam is a crime against humanity that particularly targets adivasi (indigenous) people, women, children and the disenfranchised. The submergence is devastating the lives of people, wildlife and precious ecosystems. More than 1500 families in Maharashtra and 12000 families in Madhya Pradesh, affected at 100 meters are yet to be rehabilitated . Siltation levels are dangerous and people have been attacked and killed by trapped crocodiles. The river is raging in anger, swallowing homes, fields, histories and futures of thousands of people, who have not received just rehabilitation, and are being treated with contempt and disregard by the state. The police are brutalizing the lives of those facing submergence by destroying their homes and forcibly evicting them. As water and electricity pulsates to Ahmedabad, the Narmada valley is left without basic amenities, homes, clean water, electricity, schools and their crops ravaged by the water. Where resettlement has been attempted, it is flawed; in many instances the same land has been allocated to multiple stakeholders. The Daud Committee's directive of land for land rehabilitation implies habitable and cultivable land. Often the government's resettlement package does not offer either. The Government of India, the Governments of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are intent on building non-viable large dams even while many nations are decommissioning them. The rehabilitation process is misleading and unjust and the people's demand for a written Government Resolution (Maharashtra) on Rehabilitation is yet to be met. It symbolizes the incapacity of the state to value lives and aspirations that dare to challenge the inequities of globalization and dominant development. The injustice in the Narmada Valley must be investigated by international human rights organizations and the government brought to task and made to act ethically. As I traveled, it is clear that large dams are not the temples of India, they have become her burial grounds.", says Angana Chatterji.
The NBA rebukes such cowardly acts by the Gujarat government and warns them not to repeat such intimidation in future. We urge the respectable citizens of this country to raise their voice against this blatant violation of human rights and trespassing of citizens' freedoms.
M K Sukumar