NBA Press Release
  30 October 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NBA condemns as reprehensible the lathi charge, illegal arrests and seizure of office in Khandwa

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 9425394606, 9425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Narmada Bachao Andolan severely condemns the unjust and unlawful treatment meted out by the Government of Madhya Pradesh to the displaced people of Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar and other dams and the activists working with them to realize their right to lawful rehabilitation. According to information received, activists Alok Agrawal, Kailashbhai, Kalubhai and some other villagers were unlawfully arrested today afternoon and the NBA office in Khandwa was forcefully seized and sealed by the police, without any prior intimation. The whole process of arrest and seizure, we are informed, was illegal, not following law and procedure. This only re-inforces our assertion of the total absence of rule of law in the state.

It may be noted that only yesterday, after a mass rally of thousands of displaced farmers on the 28th, Chittaroopa Palit, Ramkuwar, Kamla Yadav and 18 other activists who were staging a dharna at the Khandwa Collctorate were brutally lathi charged and arrested. The only crime they have committed is to seek enforcement of the directives of the Hon’ble High Court of Jabalpur to rehabilitate the displaced as per law and policy. All of them have been charged under various provisions of criminal law, including non-bailable offences.

The saga of development induced displacement due to the giant dams pushed by the Narmada Valley Development Authority, NHDC and Government of M. P, while displacing thousands of farmers, adivasis, fish workers, labourers in each dam, without complying with the basic environmental conditionalities is now well-known and condemned even by the judiciary. But it is unfortunate that the Government metes out a ‘terrorist-type’ treatment to the displaced and activists who are asserting basic established constitutional, legal and human rights and are challenging the state atrocity, discrimination and injustice in the Court and in the field.

We strongly object to NBA’s office being taken into custody, particularly the files of the people, all of which is nothing but an assault on the basic constitutional right to freedom of association and the freedom of speech and expression. The behavior of the State is nothing short of contempt of court and interference in count-administered justice to the displaced.

Today, not just in Madhya Pradesh, but all through the country, even as the Government trumpets of ‘combating the menace of naxalism’, it is only increasingly curbing and curtailing non-violent people’s struggles, which we feel would prove counter-productive and the anger and struggle of the displaced and marginalized, far from lessening, will only intensify. We warn the Government to behave as per the law and Constitution and unconditionally and immediately release al the arrested activists and displaced persons, withdraw all false cases foisted against them and restitute their office.

We urge you to write to the National and State Human Rights Commission to take legal against those responsible for these violations and also to the Chief Minister calling upon him and his administration to respect law and people’s rights.

Medha Patkar Ashish Mandloi Kailash Awasya
Shrikanth