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Press Release                                                 December 11, 1999

Eminent persons and Human Rights organisations in Gujarat condemn the attack on Narmada Bachao Andolan

Prominent citizens, human rights organisations, people's movements and others in Gujarat have severely condemned the inhuman attack on the activist and office of Narmada Bachao Andolan on the 9th. They include senior High Court Advocate Mr. Girish Patel (Lok Adhikar Sangh), Siddharaj Solanki (Adivasi Researcher & Activist), Dinkar Dave (Samanya Gujarat), Adv. Bhushan Oza (Lawyers Initiative), Prakash N Shah (Activist, Writer) and many others like the Indian National Social Action Forum (INSAF), Sangath, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Campaign Against Child Labour, St. Xaviers Social Service Society and Naya Marg.

"We are clear that the hysterical atmosphere created in the state by the Government and other politicians have incited these few to take law into their hands. Instead of having a meaningful dialogue with NBA with facts and figures, turning to violence is a cowardly act", the statement said.

The general public in the state has never been violent towards the activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan irrespective of their support or opposition of the dam. They have, over the years have understood the ploy of the successive governments in making the Narmada issue the sole issue of the state putting a veil on other burning issues. Now they know from the Government records that the Sardar Sarovar dam, gluttoning over 80% of the state's irrigation budget, leaving most of the drought prone area of Gujarat unirrigated; the meagre benefit that Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat will get, that too not before 2025 AD, will never be a solution to the water related problems of the state. They have now turned to the alternative methods to harvest water through a number of ways.

One may remember that in the early hours of 9th December, 6 armed thugs barged into the office of the NBA and attacked the activist Raghu, destroyed valuable documents, damaged the computer and stolen Rs.20,000 while threatening to kill the activists, if they don't heed their threats to quit Gujarat.

Hundreds of eminent persons and organisations around the country condemned this barbaric and fascist act. They include Jst.(Rtd) Suresh, Adv. Mihir Desai, Adv. Collin Gonsalvis, Human Right Law Network, National Alliance of People's Movements, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, Calcutta, Indian Centre for Human Rights and Law, Kutch Development Forum, Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights, Soshit Jan Andolan, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Kalpavriksha, Pune and others.

Joe Athialy
Nandini Oza