4th November 2000

Silent March and Demonstrations Held

Hundreds of citizens from different parts of Pune are gathering to understand the implications of the recent Supreme Court judgement on Sardar Sarovar issue and are sending the post-cards to the President of India for reconsideration of the verdict and to stop work on the dam in the interest of the tribals in the Narmada valley.=20

The young activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan are holding pickets-cum-stalls in different parts of the city for last four days and they were surpised to see the groundswell of sympathy for the cause of the Andolan and the fate of the tribals who would be the first victims of the Supreme Court judgement. Common men, women, youths gather round the demonstrative stalls at busy and crowded chowks, roads like Budhwar Chowk, Garware brindge, Collector's office, Camp area and express their symapthy and solidarity with the struggle. Hundreds of post cards are being sent, people writing their own messages to the President of India.

No doubt, there are people who wonder what would happen after the apex court has given the verdict; but they are outnumbered by hundreds of citizens who are saying that " you were wronged; yor cause is just". Even those who may not know anything about Narmada issue, after some discussion, support the cause. The young activists talk with the people and convince them about the kind of injustice the Court decision has caused and the need of the struggle. The NBA support group is holding such programmes in many parts of the city, encompassing all the classes and communities. Convincing the people not connected with the valley of the issue and the cause seems to be one of the way to strengthen the struggle.

Silent March

The novel protest was preceded by the Silent March by about a hundred activists through the main city on October 28. Senior journalist and feminist writer, Ms. Vidya Bal, Dr. Vidyut Bhagawat, Taherbhai Poonawala and R.P. Nene alongwith young activsits participated in the march. It started from the statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution. The young activists made it clear that they consider the Narmada verdict by the Supreme Court as an attack on the Constitutional values adhered by Dr. Ambedkar. Norted jurist, Dr. S.P. Sathe also attended the protest march which was concluded at the statue of Senapati Bapat, the leader of the Mulshi Satyagraha, the first anti-dam movment in India in 1921. The activists also held demonstrations on October 31 in front of Collector office. They gave a memorundum in the name of Chief Minister of Maharashrtra through the Collector of Pune. The memorundam asserted that after the Supreme Court judgement, the Maharashtra government must protect the interesrts of its tribals and the interests of the srtate as such. They asked the Chief Minister to unshackle from the straglehold of the bureaucracy of the state and strongly protect the interests of maharashtra oustees in the Narmada Control Aurthority, Chief Ministers' Review committee and if needed before the Prime Minister. Henceforth, Maharashtra government must not allow any more submergence and displacement, they said.

Sanjay Sangvai