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Press Release                                                 December 9, 1999

NBA activist attacked
NBA Baroda office cum residence ransacked, documents torn and burnt, computer damaged, money stolen.
NBA asked to leave Gujarat or face dire consequences

Narmada Bachao Andolan
B-13, Shivam Flats,
Ellora Park, Baroda

Mumbai contacts :
Pervin Jehangir : 2184779/2185832
Mahendra Singh, Amrita, Joe : 5574895

Last night at 2 am, 6 unidentified men barged into NBA office in Baroda and attacked NBA activist Raghu Raghuvanshi and ransacked the office causing severe damage to documents, computer, documents were set on fire and they made away with Rs 20,000/- cash.The six men also threatened that they have been repeatedly telling the NBA to leave Gujarat and if now their warning is not taken seriously, they would even kill.

On barging into the office two of the six men, caught NBA activist Raghu and pinned him down after beating him up. He was made to shut his mouth at a Gun and Knife point by two of the six persons, while Raghu was being pinned down and manhandled he received minor knife wound and his shirt torn. The remaining four completely ransacked and damaged the office. All this lasted for half an hour and than the unidentified youth left taking away Rs.20,000. These attackers were continuously threatening and warning that the NBA must leave Gujarat immediately or else they will even not hesitate in killing.

It is important to point that NBA has been receiving anonymous threatening calls since October this year. A written complaint to the Commissioner of the Police, Baroda was made on 16-10-99 to take immediate action. There was an inquiry in response to this complaint on 21-10-99 by PSI of Ellora Park Police Station. Also a complaint was made in writing to the DSP against a highly provocative public statement by Swami Sachidanand which was printed in Gujarat Mitra a local leading News Paper on 17-9-99. Acknowledgements of this complaint received on 11-10-99. A formal complaint against the statement of Swami Sachidanand was also made to the PUCL. In spite of these complaints anonymous threatening calls had continued ultimately resulting into the attack on 9-12-99 early morning at 2.00 am.

One may recall that a similar attack and ransacking of the NBA baroda office had taken place in March 1994 by leading Politicians of Gujarat belonging to both, BJP and the Congress. This attack took place in full view of press photographers present on the sight and the press had extensively covered the photographs of attackers while they were attacking and sabotaging the office.The photographs of MR Nalin Bhatt of BJP (Ex health and Education Minister, present chairman of GEB), Dr Rajendra Rathore the Ex Mayor of Baroda, Mr Yogesh Akolkar of Congress were printed while they were ransacking the office. While they were burning the documents, even the Police were present. A judicial inquiry was also initiated. In spite of nationwide protests, documentary evidence and a Judicial probe, nothing has come of it even after 5 years. Similar attack also took place in May 1993 on a conference of Water organised in Ahmedabad in which leading writer of Gujarat Ashwini Bhatt, a senior Gandhian Raju Purohit and others were beaten up as they were supporters of NBA. This whole event too was recorded on Vedio and submitted to the Police. Many such Attacks have taken place on NBA activists during public Meetings at Bhavnagar, Bhuj, Ghandhidham and Navsari in full view of Public and strong eye witnesses. On none of this occasions any action was taken by the state or Police as each time these attacks were politically motivated.

It is indeed sad commentary on the political state of affairs of Gujarat as not just the NBA has been attacked and targeted but even official committees of the Central Government have not been allowed to carry out their official function of investigating the displacement and Environment issues concerning the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat. For example, in June 1994 Mr Ramdhan, the Commissioner of Schedule caste and Tribe , Government of India was manhandled and prevented from executing his duty of investigating the state of rehabilitation in Gujarat. A committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment to investigate the impact on environment was not allowed to set foot in Gujarat in the year 1994. Even the Jayant Patil Committee, appointed by the ministry of water resources could not undertake any field visits during their tenure of review of the Sardar Sarovar Project. The World Commission on Dams too was prevented from coming to Gujarat and ultimately India due to the opposition of the Government of Gujarat.

This shows a complete breakdown of the State Machinery in protecting the democratic rights of the people in the State, out right violation of Human rights by the political parties and the Government and complete lawlessness.

Meanwhile protest statements are pouring in from all over the country, demanding action against the culprits and protection of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a peaceful-non violent struggle of not just the oustees but a popular movement in the country today. Those who have condemned the attack are the organizations like Delhi Forum, Vadodra Kamdar Union, National alliance of people's movements, etc. Tomorrow protest actions against this attack will be organised at Delhi, Malegaon, Bombay- on the human rights day.

M K Sukamar
Nandini Oza

For further information please contact Alok or Silvy, (011) 6221703 or Joe Athialy (022) 5574895 as our Baroda office phone is out of order.