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Press Release                                 September 29, 1999

College Students In Dhule Protest As Dharna Enters Fifth Day

In a belated judgement, the Sessions Court in Nandurbar has today (Wednesday, 29th) quashed the action under section 151 (prohibitory detention) against Medha Patkar, Dr. Sugan Baranth and Ms. Samata Mutha, but has stayed the police action under Sec. 144 and 37(1). The ruling came a day too late to pursue further action on the part of Andolan. The people will be discussing the implications of the ruling after the details are made available. The ruling came on the fifth day of the indefinite dharna by the people in the Narmada valley against the anti-people policy of the Government of Maharashtra in suppressing the people's agitation and their issues.

The Andolan, in a letter, has asked the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra to come forward to face the basic issues that are being raised regarding the submergence and displacement. Similar demands was made to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), to address the issues of the affected people.

On the fifth day of the dharna, over a hundred students from different colleges in Dhule came in a rally along with the teachers to express solidarity with the Andolan and the demands of the dharna. The students have decided to have a bandh (closure) in five colleges in the city on Thursday (30th) as a mark of protest against the state government. The students action came on the heels of the public readings of the Marathi translation of the excerpts from Ms Arundhati Roy's book " The Greater Common Good", by noted Marathi litterateur, Ratnakar Matkari. He alongwith Prof. Sanjay M.G., held a series of such programmes in the colleges in Nashik, Yeola, Malegaon and Dhule.

Hundreds of adivasis and peasants have been on the dharna protesting against the illegal and unjust arrest of their 386 colleagues in Dhadgaon on September 23. The villagers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, representatives from Gujarat and the supporters from all over India have launched a dharna against the arbitrary act on the part of the government of Maharashtra. They accused the state rulers that they are trying to save their skin by avoiding the basic issues that the people have been raising through the four month old satyagraha, even facing the submergence thrice.

Sanjay Sangvai