NBA Press Release
  10 December 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

People Resolve to Assert their Right to Land against State High Handedness at the Jan Sunwai; Mass Action to Restore the Destroyed Farms

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

As part of their strategy of silencing the voices of the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people who assert their right to land for land rehabilitation, the Madhya Pradesh government has used the police to forcibly acquire agricultural lands for building relocation sites, while destroying the standing crops. The brutal incident took place on 9 Dec, 2002, in the fields of Bhavaria village in Dhar district. The police arrived early in the morning with bulldozers and tractors and destroyed 36 acres of standing crops belonging to farmers of the Bhavaria village. The efforts of the villagers at stopping this atrocity was met with beating and arrest.

To protest against this brutal assault on people's right to land, hundreds of people gathered in the destroyed farms and conducted Jan Sunvai and mass action to restore the 36 acres. Mr Sunil and Mr Rajiv from the Indian People's Tribunal and Ms Meenu Jose from Communalism Combat presided the Jan Sunvai. After the meeting, people from different villages united in one voice to assert their rights by doing shramdan to level the land and make it cultivable again.

Today's mass meeting and action is a visible sign of the people's resolve to continue to assert their rights and to resist all forces of repression. This is the first time that police has used force in acquiring lands of the project affected people in Madhya Pradesh. The government makes a mockery of themselves by destroying prime agricultural lands to build resettlement sites when at the same time the 1993 Action Plan of Madhya Pradesh government states that they are not going to acquire agricultural land for resettlement purposes. At the same time government says that they do not have agricultural lands to distribute to the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people. If the government thinks that they can suppress people's rights for the sake of top down development programmes, they are mistaken. Today's mass action and public meeting is a warning against all undemocratic and unjust procedures followed by the " people friendly" Digvijay Singh government.

Philip Mathew
Mohanbhai Patidar
Jojo John