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Press Release                                 September 26, 1999

Appeal By Dr. Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsha Samiti on Second Day of Dharna

The struggle in the Narmada valley is an important struggle of the farmers for their right to life and for their resources, therefore, the farmers organisations from all over India should support the Narmada struggle said Dr. Sunilam of the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti from Madhya Pradesh. He was speaking at the indefinite dharna (sit-in) today (Sunday, 26 September), of the adivasis and peasants in the Narmada valley. The people took out the torchlight procession in Dhule to assert their opposition to the Sardar Sarovar Project and its associated displacement.

The people are demanding the immediate unconditional release of the arrested villagers and the discussions by the state government with the people on basic issues. About three hundred people from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and supporters from different parts of India joined the dharna. Number of orgnisations from Dhule district today reiterated their solidarity with the people's struggle.

Dr. Sunilam made it clear that the Narmada issue is an issue of the farmers= and farming. That is why the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti supports the Narmada struggle as a struggle of farmers against displacement and destitution. Talking with the Dhule press he lamented that no political party in India has been taking up the basic issues even during an important period like the elections. He decried the statement by the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr. Narayan Rane, that he would deal firmly with the Andolan. Mr. Rane does not know the history and the issues of Andolan and he should know that no dictator in history could suppress a people's movement worth its name. The Narmada struggle is important not only for the people in the valley but for the downtrodden people all over India, he said.

Rajkumar Sinha, the main activist of the Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangha, the organisations fighting for the rights of the Bargi dam oustees in M.P. also came to express solidarity with the current phase of the struggle. He alleged that the releases from the Bargi dam, the first project on Narmada, caused the devastating floods in Hoshangabad region this month. Prof. J.G. Khairnar of Dhule made it clear that the Indian Constitution gives primacy to the rights of the downtrodden people and the courts too must follow the spirit of the constitution inspired by Dr. Ambedkar. Jordar Pavra of Punarvsan Sangharsha Samiti narrated the wretched condition of those who have been displaced already. Mansram Jat for Nimad, reasserted the resolve of the people from the valley to fight for their land and villages.

Meanwhile number of organizations and prominent persons from Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Delhi, Bengal have conveyed the Chief Minister of Maharashtra that the demands of the people of the Narmada valley.

Sanjay Sangvai