October 09, 1999
THE NARMADA SATYAGRAHA; October 12, 1999; Domkhedi-Jalsindhi
The people were compelled to dare the submergence due to the increase in the height of the SSP from 80.3 mts. up to 88 mts. by an interim order of the Supreme Court of India. This was possible because of the cheating and false affidavits by the state governments of Maharashtra, M.P., and Gujarat along with the union government in the Supreme Court regarding the resettlement. The Andolan has challenged the fraud played upon the people and at the same time decided to reiterate its resolve to face the injustice in form of the unwarranted submergence.
The Andolan has called upon the people from all over India to fight against this injustice and uphold the spirit of the Constitution - the equality and justice to the downtrodden and depressed classes. It was made clear that if the work on the dam is allowed to go further without going into all the basic issues through a new tribunal and with public hearing, some of the activists would commit 'jal samarpan' ( sacrifice in water) as a form of ethical and moral statement of refusal to accept the injustice.
During the period of the satyagraha, there were hearings in the Supreme Court, and some moves to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Andolan and the Booker Prize winner literateur, Ms. Arundhati Roy. However, no decision has yet been taken about this.
LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE
The people have dared submergence three times during this period. On August 10-11, for the first time, the waters started entering the Satyagraha house in Domkhedi. Till 11th noon, the satyagrahis were standing in waist-deep submergence water. They resisted the attempt by the police to arrest them. About 300 villagers were standing outside the satyagraha house. In Jalsindhi also, the water was hardly 2 feet below the satyagraha house.
The next submergence occurred on 18th and 21st September. On 18th, over 125 men and women were arrested in Pipalchop village when they were facing the swirling waters. The flood situation was exacerbated by the releases from the upstream dams of Bargi, Tawa and Barna. On 18th, the people were unmoved even when the water rose upto their waist and chest. The police entered the first house of Noorji by breaking the thatched wall. They huddled, scuffled and took the people into custody. Meanwhile, over 15 satyagrahis had been standing in rising waters in Domkhedi for past 24 hours.
Those detained in Pipalchop were released at Dhadgaon on 19th, and they again came back to join the Domkhedi satyagrahis. From 20th night, the young and old, men and women, activists, villagers gathered in the Domkhedi house, sang songs, and raised slogans as the water was rising. By noon of the 21st, the satyagrahis were in shoulder-deep water. As a common decision, only three satyagrahis of 'samarpit dal' remained in satyagraha house in the afternoon, with water barely inches below their nose. Again, the police arrived and forcibly took into custody about 300 men and women from Domkhedi.
In Jalsindhi also the submergence waters reached the Satyagraha house and the satyagrahis were standing in knee-deep waters. The people drove away the police who came to whisk them off. The people dared submergence in Sikka, Pipalchop and Bharad also. Hundreds of acres of standing crop was destroyed and number of houses were submerged due to these backwater effects. The livelihood of people was destroyed.
The people from Domkhedi, released in Dhadgaon, held protest dharna at Dhadgaon, demanding the discussions with the Maharashtra government. However, 386 men and women were arrested and were dumped in Dhule jail, for 13 days, under flimsy charges, while the then Chief Minister was making baseless charges against the Andolan. Six of the detainees launched indefinite fast in the jail. After much judicial prevarication, all satyagrahis were released on October 6.
During the Satyagraha, hundreds of representatives of people's organisations, social-political activists, students came in the valley to participate in Youth Camps, the March through villages, major meetings on 4thy and 11th July, the camp for Alternatives and resource planning and the Rally for the Valley with the initiative of Ms. Arundhati Roy.
The satyagraha and the struggle in Jalsindhi and Domkhedi have brought forth the resolve of the people "Doobenge par hatenge nahin" (we will drown but not move out). It also has reinvigorated the spirit of fighting in the adivasi and non-adivasi areas of the valley. Number of young men and women activist from the villages emerged.
We have to consolidate on the processes that have emerged and further intensify, widen the struggle against the unjust submergence and displacement and the dam. The struggle is a part of the larger struggle against the capitalist, centralised, unsustainable and destructive development.
WE APPEAL ALL OF YOU TO COME IN THE VALLEY FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE
SATYAGRAHA THAT WAS LAUNCHED SINCE JUNE 20.
The conclusion of Satyagraha will herald a new phase of the struggle and the re-generation, resource planning in the valley for the right to life and development. Your participation, contribution on this occasion would go a long way in strengthening the struggle in the valley.
DADLIA VASAVE KHIALI BAI VASAVE LUWARIYA SHANKARIYA (Domkhedi) (Domkhedi, Mah.) (Jalsindhi,M.P.) MOHAN PATIDAR PRABHUBHAI TADVI ASHISH MANDLOI (Bhavaria, Nimad) ( Waghadia, Guj) (Narmada Youths )
(Please arrive at Baroda or Badwani offices of Andolan till the night of 11th, or early morning of 12th. Or proceed from Baroda on morning of 12th to Kadipani, via Kavant. From Kadipani, to Hapeshwar by a vehicle of Andolan or on foot. There will be boat ferry available at Hapeshwar river bank. You are expected to reach Domkhedi/Jalsindhi by 12 in the noon. Contact Baroda ( Ph.0265-382232) and Badwani ( 07290-22464).)