True Face of a Patriot - Response to an Advertisement
The Indian Express, dated November 10 & 11, 2000 carried an advertisement
titled "True Face of Ms. Medha Patkar and her Narmada Bachao Andolan"
by an Ahmedabad based National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) which is
defamatory for both myself and my colleague Chittaroopa as well as a
people's movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in more than one way.
We have through our advocate, Prashant Bhushan, served legal notice to
both Indian Express and NCCL, which has asked both of them to
"retract these allegations and imputations and publish an
apology ... with the same prominence and with same number of insertions
within a week of receipt of this notice". The advertisement has alleged that
"NBA is passing on confidential documents relating to projects of national
importance to the foreign people..." and that the NBA is funded through
hawala transactions. Hawala is well known to the politicians, both in power
and outside than to any other people's movements.
Here are some allegations and the truth:
What the Advertisement says
1. "NBA is passing on confidential documents relating to projects of
national importance to the foreign people with sole objective to halt the
progress of the nation."
"(E-mail sent by Ms. Chitraroopa Palit (Silvi) of NBA to Mr. Kurt Voegele
and Mr. Hansruedi Pfeiffer of Switzerland on 09/09/99 regarding Shri
Maheshwar Hydel Power Project of Madhya Pradesh.)"
The letter is handwritten and it's obviously not an email, as is mentioned
in the very letter of Chittaroopa.
The said "risk analysis" was prepared by NBA. NBA has always prepared
independent analysis of the Project and its different components and have
circulated for wider discussion, awareness and action.
As you all know, Maheshwar Project is being financed by the Multinational
companies like ABB, Ogden, Siemens etc. 76% of its investment is from
foreign sources. If the Government is roaming around the globe with a
begging bowl for different destructive projects, how and why can people not
challenge by disseminating the information on the facts and ground reality
to all concerned, including the investors ?
What the Advertisement says
2. "NBA is not a registered body."
"Why ? Because once an NGO is registered with the Registrar of Society and
or with the Charity Commissioner, it is bound to submit its audited accounts
every year to these authorities, which can expose the names of
donors/sources of income /expenditure."
"How is the show run so successfully by NBA for the last 10 years ?"
"Yes! Through the Hawala Transactions. NBA has established various support
groups in different names and parties are pursued to donate to such support
groups instead of NBA directly."
Why should a people's movement, who oppose the destructive projects of the
government get registered? People's movements cannot and shouldn't be
controlled and certified by the State!
Yet, we believe we should be and we are accountable to the wider society and
anyone who has genuine interest and concern. We also know that all our
transactions are legal. Otherwise the forces we are fighting against would
have finished us long back.
NBA, which is opposing the gigantic Sardar Sarovar Dam, has manifold ways to
raise funds for its activities. The foremost is the collection of grains
during the harvest from the affected villages itself. People from different
walks of life artists, writers and other professionals have contributed to
the cause. Village contribution and voluntary donations are the main sources
of funding for NBA. Sale of literature, momentos, etc too are done from time
The amount of foreign awards (totaling nearly Rs.32 lakhs) was never
accepted by NBA.
"Letter of Lok Samiti and its receipt".
Here they reproduce the letter written by the Lok Samiti of Malegaon, for
receiving some amount for NBA from a person in Ahmedabad which is not 'out
of India'. Also, NBA has been appealing through its newsletters and other
special appeals for funds to send the contributions directly to NBA account
in Mumbai or for those who want to avail of tax concessions, to Lok Samiti,
a registered body.
V.K.Saxena, one who is pained by the 'Hawala transactions', himself came to
Malegaon, praised NBA and gave a cheque for Rs.40,000. Lok Samiti naively
and promptly sent the receipt and letter, which shows honesty and good
record keeping than anything else. But the cheque couldn't be encashed and
got bounced. On enquiry, the Bank reported "The account doesn't exist". The
cheque, please note, came from Lalbhai Group. What is the connection between
Lalbhai Group and V.K.Saxena? Who among them is more 'Patriot'?
Lok Samiti accounts are recorded and audited. All the offices of NBA too
have the record of accounts.
Act of a coward, not a Patriot
Not addressing the issues raised by the movement for the last 15 years and
coming up with fake stories like 'Hawala Transactions' are examples for
cowardliness and not of patriotism. One, who is following the sordid tactics
of Government of Gujarat, its history of human rights from Dangs to
Umbergaon and mortgaging the people and their resources before Bill Gates
and Wolfensohn, knows who is behind this.