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Press Release                                 October 06, 1999

Impressive Rally In Dhule, Resolve To Continue The Struggle

The entire episode of unwarranted arrest and detention of the hundreds of adivasis-peasants from the Narmada valley has once again has made it necessary for the people's movements to strive for reform of the judicial process, making it free from political influence and pressure with respect for human and constitutional rights, while struggling against the destructive projects like Sardar Sarovar and the development policy behind this, declared the people in Narmada valley, after they were released from the Dhule jail on Wednesday (Oct. 6).

This was reiterated by Medha Patkar, in an impressive rally after the release of 376 men and women from Dhule jail, after a 13 days detention, at the time of ending the indefinite fast by her and six others after four days. The release of the people came after a decision by the Sessions court of Nandurbar on October 5. Outside the jail, they received a tumultous welcome by hundreds of people who had come from the valley. Seven satyagrahis, including Medha Patkar, Sitaram Patidar, Dadlia Karbhari, Komalbehn, Dhursingh Vasave, Mahadev Patidar and Naharsingh, who were on the fast for last four days issued a statement from the jail while being released.

The people were arrested in Dhadgaon ( Dist. Nandurbar) on September 23, when the people were on dharna demanding discussions on the basic issues regarding displacement, resettlement and the dam with some senior official of the Govt. of Maharashtra. Instead, they have been arrested and detained in jail, without any reason. After the release the people took out a rally where they resolved to struggle with renewed vigour. Keshav Vasave, Dadlia Vasave, Sitarambhai, Pratibha Shinde and other activists expressed their resolve to carry on the struggle against the unjust development. Adv. Nirmalkumar Suryavanshi lamented the unwarranted delay in the release of the satyagrahis arrested under flimsy charges. He wondered why Satish Sharma was exonerated and a hotel in Mumbai was saved through the court order while the rights of adivasis and dalits have been under constant threat.

According to Medha Patkar, who was addressing the rally, the government of Maharashtra must take initiative in reviewing the SSP, as it is not in the interest of the state. The government must come out with its plans regarding the rehabilitation and availability of the land as it had claimed.

According to the statement, the recent arrest and the injustice in the judicial process about the release of the 386 satyagrahis had led to the indefinite fast. However, while being released after a tedious judicial process and ending the fast we know that we will have to struggle for the reform of the entire judicial process, make it free from the political pressure and influence and induce in it the respect for human and constitutional rights. On the other hand we will have to continue our struggle against the destructive development projects like the Sardar Sarovar and the development policy behind it which has been against 80% of the people.

When the political leaders are busy in the power games and to keep the people mesmerised in it, our hearts and heads are filled with the life and death issues of the depressed and downtrodden sections. We all want to bring in the rule of the village and the community with the rights over natural resources and a decentralised decision making process. The struggle against SSP and the large dams on the Narmada is in its decisive phase. We are committed to struggle for the review of the entire Narmada valley project and would not allow an inch of further construction towards its final height of 138.46 mts of the SSP.

The people have expressed their determination to carry on the struggle along with the other people's organisations within the country, struggling on the issues like the displacement, destructive development, communalism-casteism and for an alternative development.

The people have since returned back to their villages. They would be also having meetings in Dhadgaon.

Sanjay Sangvai