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Anti-dam protesters, demonstrating against land acquisition ordinance, attacked in Sonbhadra, UP

Protesters ahead of the attack
By Our Representative
Even as news came in about police firing on “peaceful protest” of Adivasis and Dalits on Tuesday Morning, morning, followed by “brutal” lathi charge, at Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) characterized this as “brazen”, especially as it came on the day of the Ambedkar Jayanti. NAPM is the apex body of tens of people’s organizations operating across India, and is led by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar. Several people were injured in the melee.
In a statement issued in the wake of the attack, NAPM said, “While the memory of bloodshed in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is still fresh, this incident of brazen violence was unleashed by the police and the state machinery, leaving many, including women, gravely injured.” It added, “It is a painful irony that the villagers were celebrating ‘Save the Constitution Day’ on Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti when this ruthless assault of the very soul and spirit of Constitution took place.”
The protest saw participation of thousands of villagers, NAPM said, adding, it was “a continuation of the struggle against land acquisition and large-scale displacement by the controversial Kanhar Dam.” The dam is sought to be built “without conducting any fresh cost benefit analysis and social and environmental impact assessments, and violating the order of the National Green Tribunal dated December 24, 2014 which mandated Environment Clearance and Forest Clearance for it.”
Kanhar Irrigation Project was originally approved by the Central Water Commission in September 1976. The project is located downstream of the confluence of River Pagan with Kanhar near village Sugawan in Tehsil Dudhi of district Sonebhadra in UP. The project proposes a 3.003 km earthen dam having a maximum height of 39.90 metres from deepest bed level which, may be increased to 52.90 m if linked to Rihand reservoir.
NAPM claimed, “The project envisages submergence of 4131.5 Ha land of 111 villages, which includes parts of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The project was completely abandoned since 1989 and construction work started only on December 5, 2014. Information accessed under RTI shows that the project does not have a valid Environment Clearance and Forest Clearance.”
NAPM further said, “Kanhar dam will feed water to Rihand reservoir, the water from which is being used for electricity generation in Singrauli, which is witness to all kinds of violence against the tribal people. Some of them have already faced multiple displacements, police harassment and wrecked environmental disaster for years now.”
“As the resistance against land acquisition and struggle for land rights intensifies in every nook and corner of the country, this valiant battle lead by women in villages of Sonbhadra and the attempts to repress it by the state government brings out the double standards of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in UP”, NAPM alleged.
“On one hand the SP has been opposing the Land Acquisition Ordinance brought out by the BJP-led government at centre, and on the other hand, it attacks peaceful protesters who are demanding land rights in its own state”, it added.
Demanding “immediate disciplinary and legal action against the officials involved in this heinous act and compensation, medical relief to all affected persons and their families”, NAPM wanted setting up of an “independent judicial probe must be initiated at the earliest to ensure the justice is rendered.”

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