NBA Press Release
  05 August 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Fast by Medha Patkar ends on release from Jail: The Dharna continues in Badwani for the 6th day

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

The Narmada Valley pledges to fight corruption and repression through torchlight procession by thousands of women and men

It was at 10 a.m. on 4th August that Medha Patkar was released from Indore Jail after being arrested on 25th July evening from Taloon, the land occupation satyagraha pandal. Indore supporters and representatives from NBA Mohan Patidar, Shyama and Dipmala were present at the jail gates when the fast was broken. The Press was addressed there and then.

Addressing the Press, Medha Patkar called the whole episode to be a conspiracy against the people, especially adivasis who have lost their land since 90's but are forgotten with deliberate misleading reports by the NVDA about compliance with rehabilitation. It is also a move to conceal massive corruption of crores of rupees by suppressing and repressing the farmer's movement.

It is obvious that the attempt this time was made by the Government of M.P. to try and detain Medha Patkar for the largest possible period digging out years old cases such as one of 1995. This case was filed for the mass action of adivasis and farmers, women and men, Satyagrahis walking to the police camp in Chilakda where drunkard policemen were caught red handed and the protest was through sit-in before the police camps. The intention behind false cases under sections 506, 353, 294...etc seems to be intimidation of the struggling people against unjust displacement and for land as entitled alternative livelihood.

A large torchlight procession in Badwani on August 4th night

From Indore, Medha Patkar and people from the Valley returned to Badwani where a sit-in by the adivasis, farmers and fisher folk continued since July 30th and a number of protest actions, including Rasta Roko (road blockade) for hours and relay fast had taken place throughout the last 10 days since the arrest. On August 1st and 3rd,when she was presented before the Judicial Magistrate for bail, hundreds gathered in the court and a public meeting was held where people raised voice for justice: "Nyay Chahiye, Anyay Nahi" (We want justice, not injustice).

On the way back, women and men gathered to welcome, express solidarity and strength at Nisarpur, Kadmal, Khaparkheda and Chikhalda and they all followed to Badwani where hundreds of people, farmers, fish workers and others had already gathered. In the public meeting, Bava Maharia was outspoken in condemning the Government acting illegally and unconstitutionally, while filing false charges against the adivasis, beating them to suppress lawful agitation. Ashish Mandloi challenged the Minister for the district, Vijay Shah, saying if he doesn't hold talks with us on enormous corruption in rehabilitation; people will take it as a sign of his siding with the corrupt and the criminal ones.

Nani behen, the fiery fisherwoman from Chikhalda thundered: “the Government is callous and wants to catch us like fish but with our river bed lands submerged, our boats drifted away, we are determined to fight, jumping out of the net as fish do”.

Medha Patkar said, “It’s obvious that the Government is all out to kill our right to land and also right to agitate. Both Gujarat and M.P. Governments want to prove us to be violent and criminal even when the latest verdict of Supreme Court has given a clean chit to the Andolan, recognizing its efforts to get the Supreme Court orders implemented i.e. attaining rehabilitation before submergence.” She declared that a torch will be lit against the corruption and repression.

People in hundreds then marched through the streets of Badwani till very late night with scores of torches and reaching the Vijay Stambh, a monument of shahids (martyrs), vowed to continue their struggle for land, livelihood and life. NO LAND, NO DAM!

(SEE SLIDE SHOW OF TORCH LIGHT RALLY IN BADWANI: Click the link below. No need to sign in. Once you enter the page, just click 'play')

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?Uc=91x71je7.9tmi5rzb&Uy=72h2l0&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0&mode=fromshare&conn_speed=1

The youth group inspired all with their songs and slogans reverberated by women and children who were in bright spirits. The sit-in will continue but right in front of the New Collector's office with a challenge: When you have evicted us from farm land too, rehabilitate us, check the flawed land records or face up. The demand for compensation for sunken pumps and lost boats continue while the administration has already started for digging out the pumps wherever possible. It's a long way to go and this is the time to struggle when waters at 122-130 mts are not yet filled and dam is 17 mts below the final height.

We are thankful to all supporters including eminent persons and organizations. All member allies of NAPM and Action 2007, people from Ghar Bachao – Ghar Banao Andolan in Mumbai, support group in Bangalore and SUCI in Kolkata held protest actions, while number of others wrote to the Chief Minister, Ministers and Authorities. We are thankful to all and appeal to continue to take up support actions:

• compelling the Government to allot land to all adivasis who have already lost theirs to the dam
• to rehabilitate all with rights granted to fish workers, landless, artisans too
• not allowing the Sardar Sarovar dam to proceed even an inch when 2 to 2.5 lakh people continue to reside in villages and townships in the submergence area.
• preventing the state Government of M.P. from resorting to repressive measures against movements violating civil liberties and human rights.
• Immediate action against corrupt officers who continue to cheat and bully PAFs during the rehabilitation process

PIL to be heard by the Chief Justice of M.P. on August 8th

A letter was written by Medha Patkar to the Chief Justice of M.P. from Indore Jail regarding atrocities against the agitation, impinging upon right to peaceful protests, using unjustifiable police force and suppressing lawful demand for land based rehabilitation from Indore jail on July 26th. This was admitted by the CJ as PIL and the same will be heard on August 8th. The State Government of M.P. has been asked to respond by that date. Medha Patkar will plead the case of NBA before the CJ of M.P.

Kamla Yadav,
Clifton Rozario,
Ashish Mandloi