| NBA Press Release
|| 09 December 2002
Forcible and Illegal Occupation of Village Land in Bhavariya For Sardar Sarovar Dam; MP Govt Tramples Law and People to help Narendra Modi
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
It is very difficult to separate the Congress government of media-savvy Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh from that of the communal Narendra Modi. Both have been targeting the helpless people with the active connivance of the state-machinery. That was evident, once again on December 9, 2002, in Kukshi block (Dist. Dhar), when over 400 police laid a siege on the entire area to forcibly occupy the 22 hectares of fertile land in Bhavariya village in the plains of Nimad, for the sake of the infamous Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Over 60 people-men and women- were beaten and arrested and the "People-friendly" government destroyed standing crops of chilly, onion and cotton in 22 hectares.
And the Grievance redressal Authority (GRA) of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Sohoni, appointed by the Supreme Court to deal with the abuse of the affected people's rights, refused to take up the matter and instead unabashedly told the people to approach the Supreme Court. Mr. Sohoni, a highly biased, retired high court judge, asked the people not to come to him.
It was literally a siege and occupation. On Monday (Dec.9), the 400 police blocked the state highway through the villages: Chikhalda, Nissarpur and Kukshi town, along with a heavy police force in Bhavariya. All the vehicles on this road were stopped and checked. The police and officers forcibly occupied the 22 hectares of land, ostensibly for setting up the "resettlement site". The peasants and other people in the village have been stiffly opposing any kind of displacement and foiled a previous attempt by the police to grab the village land.
The state government passed the "award" of land acquisition for 140 hectares of land in Bhavariya village, out of which 22 ha. was earmarked for the "resettlement site"- for those people who were opposing any kind of displacement and resettlement. The owners of 22 ha. land also did not accept any compensation for the "acquired" land. The people had challenged the acquisition of the land in the village, as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. The state government did not respond to the objections raised under the Act. They maintained that government cannot acquire the land of the project-affected persons (PAP) for the resettlement, as per its own rehabilitation policy. The state government has itself presented this policy in Supreme Court. However, after the Supreme Court judgement in October 2000, the government changed this policy and facilitated the acquisition of land- except 5 acres piece to be left in case of small and marginal farmers.
When the people took the matter to the GRA, Mr. Sohoni, the authority asked the people to approach the M.P. High Court. So, Ladubai and Radheshyam filed the write petition in the High Court ( Writ no. 1460 and 1461 of 2002). The High Court ruled that since the Supreme Court had appointed the GRA for the specific purpose of dealing with the complaints of PAPs, the affected persons must approach GRA. Even after that, Mr. Sohoni refused to look at the matter.
On December 9, the people again contacted Mr. Sohoni about the emergency situation and breach of law and rights of the people. He again asked them to go to High Court. When the people pointed out the High Court verdict, he asked them to go the Supreme Court. After much insisting, the GRA gave the date of January 15 for the hearing of the Bhavnriya land case.
Well, Mr. Sohoni, the government and police had already destroyed the standing crop on the land and started to build the roads and structures on this land. So when and how the people are to get justice? The Supreme Court of India had again asked the people, in September 2002, to approach the GRAs in the three states in case of any complaints of impropriety. And the GRA himself asks the people to go to Supreme Court without hearing their case of restraining the government. The judicial processes and offices in case of Sardar Sarovar have literally become the facilitators for the government to displace the people.
And, the people-friendly Digvijay Singh gloats about secular credentials and distributes Tansen and Lata Mangeshkar Awards, while his police destroy the tribal villages, homes and harass the peasants of his own state, with the complicity of the GRA and other authorities. It is nothing short of state terrorism. That has been the basis of the projects like Sardar Sarovar.
In the Gujarat elections Narendra Modi has been projecting the Sardar Sarovar as the most important achievement of his chauvinistic provincialism, to deflect the nationwide criticism of his communal record. Digvijay Singh, is helping in this endeavour and also to score electoral points. While the Congress party under Smt. Sonia Gandhi is leading the campaign in and out of Gujarat for the ouster of Modi, here is her lieutenant helping Modi by illegally and forcibly displacing people from his own state to facilitate the increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar.
This is not solitary misdeed of Singh. The peasants and tribals in the state are being constantly suppressed to promote his corrupt policies of privatization and globalization. He knows that everybody is looking at Modi and Gujarat, and therefore he could carry on his anti-people agenda.
Can we allow this is the kind of atrocities and misuse of secularism? It is another face of the ghastly carnage in Gujarat. This has to be stopped NOW.
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