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Demolition of Gandhi Samadhi in Badwani, use force on fasting NBA activists: Protests held in Delhi, Karnataka

Gandhi Samadhi being removed in Badwani
By Our Representative
Even as Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, accompanied by Sardar Sarovar dam affected communities, started indefinite mass fast against the alleged Madhya Pradesh government attempt at "drowning and forcefully evicting people from Narmada Valley without complete and Just rehabilitation", her supporters gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in solidarity protest.
Before Patkar and her supporters could sit for fast in Badwani, off Gujarat border next to Narmada river, in an early morning operation on July 27, the Madhya Pradesh police dismantled the Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat with the help of JBC. As the police was seeking to take away the Mahatma's remains, NBA activists stopped them, protesting against the "disrespect" to Gandhiji.
The samadhi had ashes of Gandhiji, Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadevbhai Desai, Gandhiji's life long secretary. Facing protest, the police tried to forcibly remove the protesters from the spot and asked those sitting on fast, led by Patkar, to vacate the spot.
Failing to do it, the cops retreated, but not before dismantling a few shops in the neighbourhood. In a communique, NBA alleged, "It is clear that police acted as per the government instructions. It is part of its strategy to use violent means to evict communities and try hard to deter the strength of people holding indefinite fast peacefully along with Medha Patkar."
Meanwhile, NBA supporters in Delhi began protest against the use of "brute force" by the Madhya Pradesh police. The Delhi Solidarity Group and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) held gathered in Delhi at Jantar Mantar in solidarity with Narmada oustees, NBA and Patkar against the "forceful eviction and drowning of not only a valley but a civilization, a culture and whole communities living in Narmada Valley."
Sanjeev Kumar from the Delhi Solidarity Group briefed those who had gathered for the protest at Jantar Mantar about the "injustices happened in last 32 years of struggle led by the people and communities of Narmada valley along with NBA.
Medha Patkar (right), supporters oppose
removal of Gandhi Samadhi
CPI-M leader Hannan Mollah, as representative of the land rights movement Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, said that the government was producing "false information in courts, and attacking people with force when they asked for rehabilitation". He added, "On the behest of corporate forces and for the sake of interests of few industrialists, the government has stopped listening to people for genuine demands of the people and the NBA, which fought for the rights of people for the last 32 years."
Bhupendra Singh Rawat from Jan Sangharsh Vahini criticized the government’s plan of holding Narmada Mahotsav, the celebration of formal closure of sluice gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam, scheduled on August 12." He added, the celebration was being planned, even as 40,000 families residing in Narmada Valley "faced eviction without complete and just rehabilitation."
Soumya Datta, renowned environmentalist, refuted two basic claims of the government to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar dam: One, electricity supply to Madhya Pradesh, and two, water for Gujarat.
Datta said, "Gujarat has failed to utilize the water stored at the dam height of 121.92 metres with gates open as the canal work is not complete. Also, major portion of water is only going to Coca Cola and industries rather than the claimed farmers in Gujarat."
He added, "The other claim of the need of electricity has no basis, as Madhya Pradesh is already a power surplus and is facing corruption charges in purchasing electricity at higher rates from private companies by keeping public sector electricity power plants closed."
Rajesh Singh from the Delhi Solidarity Group, Inamul Hassan from the Khudai Khidmatgar, Rishit Neogi from NAPM, and farmers from Tamil Nadu protesting at Jantar Mantar also expressed their solidarity and raised slogans against government attempt of "silencing" the voices of minority, farmers, workers, women, adivasis and fishworkers of the Narmada Valley and NBA activists.
In yet another show of solidarity with fasting NBA activists and people of the Narmada Valley, supporters from Karnataka held a day-long fast at Talukdar Headquarters in Challekere, Karnataka. Activists assembled and fasted for the whole day and raised slogans in support to the demands of Narmada dam oustees and NBA.

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