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Press Release                                 October 05, 1999

NARMADA SATYAGRAHIS RELEASED BY NANDURBAR COURT Dharna and Fast by Medha and Others to Be Withdrawn on Wednesday

The Nandurbar sessions court today ordered release of 376 villagers and activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on personal bond, after 13 days in the Dhule jail. The order on Tuesday ( 5th Oct.), has paved the way for ending the four day old fast by Medha Patkar and her six colleagues against the injustice. Meanwhile, the people in the Narmada valley and the detainees who will be freed on Wednesday, will held a major rally in Dhule before returning back to their villages.

The sessions court order came after an adverse order from the lower court at Taloda on Monday (4th) which denied the release of the detainees. The judge offered the release of the satyagrahis on the bail of Rs. 3000 each. The NBA refused to oblige and challenged the order in Sessions court today. The order came during eleven-day old dharna by hundreds of adivasis and peasants from the Narmada valley and the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar and her six colleagues that was started on October 2. Apart from hundreds of people from the various parts of the Narmada valley, number of representatives of organisations from Kerala, Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra participated in the Dharna.

This period was also marked by the baseless allegations by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Narayan Rane against the NBA and Medha Patkar. NBA has refuted these allegations with detailed facts and analysis. It declared the decision to issue the legal notice through the lawyer to Mr. Rane. A delegation of the supporters of NBA met the Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Gopinath Munde on Monday in Dhule and asked him why the state government was bent upon repressive police action as against the NBA^s demand for a discussion through any higher official. However, the government again chose to deal with the satyagrahis through the police. The people have been demanding, even from the jail, that the Chief Minister must prove the availability of the 2200 hectares land for rehabilitation which has been repeatedly claimed by him during last some days. The satyagrahis were previously arrested from Domkhedi, where they were daring the submergence in the neck deep waters.

As the satyagrahis were in the jail and the dharna was going on the solidarity programmes were organised in Nashik, Nagpur, Chennai, Dhule and other parts of the country. The Dhule action has once again exposed the falsehood of the government of Maharashtra regarding the resettlement and displacement aspect.

Prof. Shyam Patil, Shripad Dharmadhikari, Sanjay Sangvai