'Call for Justice' - Long March to Delhi (Nyay ki Pukar)

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'Call for Justice' - Long March to Delhi (Nyay ki Pukar)

Dear all,

To all those who have been following the struggle in the Narmada Valley over last 15 years, the recent judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court written by Jst.Kirpal and signed by Chief Justice Jst.Anand came as a great shock. Shock, not just because it allowed the dam construction to go ahead by 2 mts. immediately overlooking clear evidence submitted to the Court by Narmada Bachao Andolan and the Government of Madhya Pradesh which shows that the rehabilitation of people affected at the present height is far from complete. Nor because the verdict is a pile of contradictions. But, apart from ignoring most issues raised by NBA, verdict from the highest court has sanctioned violation of the Tribunal Award and the right to life, guaranteed by the Constitution. The judgement expressed full confidence in the existing system and mechanisms in overseeing the rehabilitation, whose callousness and complete failure had forced us to approach the Court in the first place.

The ramifications of this judgment will go well beyond the Valley of Narmada. The judgement has overtly given a go ahead to the development policies followed during the last 53 years, where the people of the country, have been exploited and displaced, marginalised and destitutionalised. This has happened, especially to the lower sections of the population - adivasis, dalits, minorities, the harnessers and protectors of natural resources farmers and fisher folk, small artisans and self employed like hawkers Their plight is worsened with the advent of liberalisation policies. While the governance has gone from bad to worse, democratic institutions have become defunct. The system, therefore, needs a jolt and the giant forces need to be challenged with the strength of people's power. Narmada is the struggle. With its supporters all over, we appeal to all of you, people's organisations and sensitive citizens to join hands, highlight other issues, and link those to the Narmada. This is the time to act.

This verdict, as pointed out by many, will go down in history, as one of the worst judgements, ever.

Many of you have reacted in your own way, (through spontaneous reactions to this verdict, including mass actions). Some have demonstrated in front of the High Court or lower courts in your own place; some observed fast, wrote articles, letters to different authorities and above all, have reiterated your solidarity and confidence in the struggle of the people. Beginning with a mass protest rally at Badwani on the 23rd October, people in the valley expressed their astonishment, anger and sense of betrayal in numerous ways. They buried the judgment of Jst.Kirpal in front of the Sessions Court in Badwani, indicating their rejection of the same; observed Diwali - the festival of lights, as day of darkness, which is being filled into their lives and instead of the ceremonial coloring of horns of cattle, they blackened those. Eight representatives of the Narmada Valley and supporters observed a symbolic fast in Bhopal through the five days of Diwali, protesting against the judgment and appealing to the civil society to stand by justice. On the eve of commencement of resumption of work on dam, we will hold 'torch of vigil' (on 30th night), along with others all over, as a token of our resolve to protect the 'flame of life' in the Valley. People are getting ready for intensifying the struggle in the coming days.

Out of the programs that are being planned, one of the important one is "A Call for Justice" - Long March to Delhi to expose the judgement and aiming at transforming judiciary to be more truthful and accountable. There will also be a public hearing on the Narmada in Delhi. The Long March will also appeal to the President to use his powers to stop further devastation of the Valley and destitution of the people.

The Long March - a plan:

The Long March will start from the valley with thousands of people from both tribal area and the plains of Nimad, through different routes, will join together in Delhi on 11th November 2000. Regional rallies from Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan and Bengal will join the Long March at different points.

Route I
6th November Long March from the tribal hamlets of Maharashtra will hold a rally at Tahsil headquarters - Dhadgaon; Flag off from Dhadgaon.
7th November morning Shahada
7th November evening Taloda
8th November morning Rally at District headquarters at Nandurbar. (Dhadgaon - Nandurbar by road)
8th November evening Jalgaon
9th November Public program at Bombay.
Route II
10th November The Long March from Nimad (plains) and tribal area of Madhya Pradesh will hold demonstration at the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), Indore asking them for the rehabilitation Master Plan, that the Supreme Court has asked them to prepare in 4 weeks. (Long March to proceed towards Delhi by train).
11th November Both the groups reach Delhi. A March and dharna in Delhi (Bombay / Indore Delhi by train)
Program at Delhi
11th November onwards Dharna starts
12th, 13th November Different Programs
14th November Jan Sunvai (Public Hearing) on Narmada its social, environmental and economic impacts. People from the valley will present their case before a group of eminent persons from different walks of life. Government bodies will also be invited to present their case in the Public Hearing, organised by the Indian People's Tribunal, Bombay.
15th November Announcement of the findings by the Jury.

Dharna will continue till people are given a chance to be heard by the President. The Long March will try to spread the message by holding rallies, public meetings, exhibitions, distribution of leaflets, holding press conferences etc. at different places, bringing out the ground reality regarding complete failure and impossibility of just rehabilitation of all the affected people.

Regional Yatras

Regional yatras from South can join the Long March at Mumbai on the 9th early morning, while others can join us at Delhi on the 11th of November. We appeal to you to mobilise people in your respective states, raising the issue in different cities and asking organisations, movements and individuals to join the Long March. When the regional yatra passes through the state, you can distribute pamphlets, hold meetings, carry out campaign in trains / buses including letter campaign (asking the President, to not be a meek witness to this injustice, but should 'act' in interest of the people and to the Chief Justice, to review their judgment suo motto) and other innovative actions.

We earnestly appeal to all of you to:

  • Despite this very short notice, spread the message of the Long March in your area.
  • Join the Long March wherever possible.
  • Involve the supporters and eminent persons of your state in the campaign.
  • Collect funds and help the movement.

We are awaiting your confirmation about participation in the Long March, and more importantly, your continued support, in this most challenging phase for the Andolan.

In solidarity,

Alok Agarwal
Dedali Bai
Devram Bhai
Bali Ben
Nandini Oza
Madha Patkar