| NBA Press Release
|| 25 November 2001
Brutal lathi charge in Village Chotta Badada on peaceful protestors; Over 15 hospitalised; Two bystanders also brutally beaten, one still semi-conscious; M.P. Government attempts forcible surveys without answering people's fundamental questions
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
The M.P. Government continued its spree of police repression in the Narmada valley as it brutally lathi charged, without any warning peaceful protestors in the village Chotta Badada (Dist. Badwani, M.P.) badly injuring more than 15 people who have been under arrest, and admitted in the hospital at Badwani. In a demonstration of utter callousness and brutality, the police also let lose their wrath on some innocent bystanders who had come to the village for cremation of a deceased relative. Two of these visitors are also admitted to the hospital and one of them is as yet semi-conscious.
Since last 2 months or so, the M.P. Government has been trying to carry out surveys in the villages affected by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Valley in an attempt to prove that they are doing something to resettle the people. However, the people of the valley have been opposing these surveys as they are saying that the Government has no readiness to resettle the people, the arrangements for resettlement are not in place and there is no land available for the same. Given this, the people are saying that these surveys are merely being undertaken for covering up the total failure of the Government in resettlement. These surveys are being carried out only to make a show that some work is being done on resettlement.
Given this, the people have continuously raised the issue that the Government should first answer their fundamental questions and only then carry out the survey. However, the Government has totally refused to do this, and in village after village, has been carrying out the surveys with police force and threat. In the last couple of months, the police have carried out similar lathi charge in several villages and have arrested large number of peaceful protestors.
The people had also said, to demonstrate their most reasonable attitude, that even after this, if there were people in the villages who wanted to get their property surveyed voluntarily, the officials were free to do so, but they should not carry out the survey of those who had fundamental issues.
Today (25 Nov. 2001), the SDM Shri Tikam called some representatives of the village Chotta Badada in the morning and told them that the Government wanted to do surveys in the village. The villagers reminded him that last time he had come along with the officials for survey in last week of Sept. 2001, he had carried out a brutal lathi charge and many people had been injured and hospitalised. Later, he had promised that he would answer the poeple's questions before doing any further surveys. Today, he told the people that he would do nothing of that kind, that he was concerned only with carrying out the survey. The people told him that if there were people in the village who wanted to voluntarily get surveyed, the Government could carry out these surveys. He too agreed to this, and assured that the survey would be carried out only in case of those volunteering for it, and in case of those challenging it, the officials would not carry out the survey.
In the village, the people then closed their doors, put up black flags on their houses and slogans saying they were opposed to these surveys which were merely a show.
However, when the team with large number of police and the officials entered the village in the afternoon, the very first survey was begun on the lands of a person who was opposing it. As a few people gathered to ask the SDM as to how this was being done in spite of his assurance, he abused them and the ordered the police to take them away. The police pounced on these people and started immediately being them up. Then they let loose terror on whosoever was around. The depths to which the police went can be gauged from the fact that some visitors to the village too were not spared in spite of their pleadings to the officers that they had just come for the cremation of a relative. One of these persons is so badly beaten that he is still semi-conscious (as of late night). More that 15 people were badly injured, some who are suspected to have suffered fractures also.
The police cruelty can be seen from the fact that after this beating also, they did not admit the people to the hospital but took them to Badwani jail (20 kms from Badada), where too they were kept waiting outside for an hour. It is only after the people vehemently protested that they were finally admitted to the hospital, where even till late night many of them were still awaiting to get their x-rays done or the results of tests.
The survey continued in the village even after this.
It may be mentioned here that just three days ago, on 22 Nov. 2001, the police had similarly lathi charged and beaten up people in village Pipri, without any warning. 16 people were arrested and were in jail in for three days and let off only after excecuting personal bonds. A few weeks ago, police had arrested at 2.30 am, active workers of the NBA in village Ekalbara in the night before they carried out the survey in the village. Later during the day, many others were arrested and beaten up and were in jail for 6 days.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan condemns this attitude and approach of the Government of M.P. which is clearly doing all this in a bid a somehow crush the legitimate issues raised by the people and make a show that it is carrying out the work of the rehabilitation of the oustees.
It maybe recollected that unless this work of resettlement is carried out, the height of the dam cannot be raised. Since more than a year after the Supreme Court judgement in the Sardar Sarovar Case of 18 Oct. 2000, the Governments have not been able to raise the height of the dam more than 2 meters that had been permitted by the Court. This clearly shows the total failure of the rehabilitation and indeed exposes the fundamental problems in the process, and shows that rehabilitation of the affected people is impossible.