Monday, August 07, 2017

Medha Patkar "arrested" after Madhya Pradesh cops force their way into pandal, lathi charge Narmada oustees

Patkar surrounded by supporters just ahead of arrest
By Our Representative
Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, who was fasting for the 12 days to protest against the “failure” of the Government of India to rehabilitate thousands of Narmada dam oustees, apprehending massive submergence in Madhya Pradesh, has been "arrested".
Fasting in village Chikhalda on the banks of Narmada river with 11 of her supporters, Patkar was “removed” in a violent police swoop, which lasted for an hour, said eye-witnesses.
The pandal in which she and her supporters were on indefinite hunger strike was brought down. The police resorted to lathi charge to remove Patkar’s supporters before taking her away. An NBA activist, Shankarlal, was reportedly admitted in ICU after police lathi-charge. Many others sustained injury.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan denied that Patkar was arrested. He tweeted that he is a "sensitive person", and, considering Patkar's deteriorating health, she has only been admitted in a hospital on advice from doctors. "We wish her long and healthy life", he added.
In a statement ahead of her arrest at 6 pm, Patkar regretted that the only answer to their protest with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Madhya Pradesh chief minister was to put them pick them up and put them in detention.
Patkar being taken away  
“We wanted dialogue. However, they had no reply to the arguments we had put forward to contradict their web of statistical lies. Hence, they are using force”, said. She described the use force against her non-violent movement as running counter to Gandhiji’s and Dr Ambedkar’s vision.
Patkar’s arrest took place amidst news that 21 Goldman Environmental prize – popularly Green Nobel prize – winners and 50 international organizations are learnt to have extended their support to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), asking Modi to intervene and stop “forced eviction” of 40,000 oustees of the Narmada dam.
The support follows world renowned linguist and social scientist Noam Chomsky, along with 800 people from 30 countries, asking Modi to enter into negotiations with Patkar.
An NBA release said, the Goldman prize winners have written “a collective letter”, urging Modi to “ensure the fundamental rights of life and livelihood of the people in a democratic country.”
Pandal pulled down after arresting Parkar
Key organizations that have sought Modi’s intervention include Asian Peasant Coalition, Association for India’s Development, Earth International, World Rainforest Movement, the Asian Human Rights Commission, Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition, Landless Workers Movement - Brazil, International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs - Copenhagen, among others.
Meanwhile, addressing media in Delhi, India’s land rights movement, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) leaders – CPI-M farmers’ leader Hannan Mollah, environmentalist Soumya Dutta, and National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja – claimed that 191 villages and a small town, Dharampuri, would face submergence by mid-October once waters fill up to the full reservoir level, 138.68 metres, of the Narmada dam in Gujarat.
21 Goldman Environmental prize – popularly Green Nobel prize – winners and 50 international organizations extend support to Narmada Bachao Andolan, write to Modi 
Even the state government has estimated that 18,000 families still need to be rehabilitated, the BAA leaders said, adding, hundreds of temples, mosques, adivasi religious places, schools, health centres, thousands of shops, small business places, well developed fruits and vegetable farms still being actively used, all will be drowned.
The injured activist being taken to hospital
The leaders said, in its last order dated February 8, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the governments to compensate Rs.60 lakh (estimated price of 5 acres of agricultural land there) to all those losing over 25% of the land and who have not taken any compensation yet.
The order had further said, those who took the earlier meagre compensation of 5.58 lakh, but were cheated by the collusion of officers and land-agents, were to be awarded 15 lakhs each family. Even this has still not been done, they pointed out, adding, meanwhile, the state government has amassed large police force, conducting intimidating drills in villages, threatening villagers to vacate or face consequences.

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