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Medha Patkar ends 17-day fast in Madhya Pradesh jail; supporters to "take" Narmada oustees' struggle to new level

By Our Representative
Following all-round appeal to her, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and several of her colleagues have ended their 17-day fast, which they had undertaken for the the alleged plan to forcibly evict around 40,000 Narmada dam oustee families of the Narmada dam.
Patkar ended her fast in the presence of a delegation comprising of Sanjay Parikh, senior advocate, Supreme Court; Hannan Mollah, former MP and secretary, All India Kisan Sabha; Annie Raja, secretary, National Federation of Indian Women; Dr Sunilam, leader, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti; Chinmay Mishra, writer and activist, among others.
The delegation first visited Koteshwar, in tehsil Kukshi, district Dhar, where thousands of oustees greeted it's members with pro-NBA slogans. About 15 oustees agreed to break fast, following which a Narmada declaration was drafted to begin what it called "a new and intense phase of struggle."
Then the delegation met Patkar, lodged in the district jail Dhar, where it showed her letters and appeals by eminent people of the country, several people’s organizations as well as people of the Narmada valley and persuaded her to break her fast.
Members of the delegation expressed concern that the state government had stooped to a new low by instituting false criminal charges, including kidnapping, during the period when she was on fast. In spite of her serious health condition, she was forced to remain in jail, they observed.
The delegates said, the state had tried to put her in jail so that the reality of the present sufferings and struggle of the 40,000 families, who were under the threat of submergence, was not be pursued further. The delegation told Patkar these were trying times, and there was a need to take the struggle to a new phase. Accepting the delegation's argument, Patkar agreed to end her 17 day fast.
Meanwhile, a statement, signed by those who met Patkar and senior NBA activists, said that "any amount of repression by the state cannot suppress the democratic, legitimate and non-violent struggle of the 40,000 Narmada dam affected families, who are determined to take ahead the 32 year old struggle in an intense and sustained way."
The statement said, "Over the past few months the NBA, through various forms of mass actions, has exposed the lies of the government of ‘complete rehabilitation’ and proved that thousands of families continue to live in submergence area as they have not been rehabilitated, as per the law of the land."
"Various notifications issued by the Madhya Pradesh government, introducing new ‘schemes’ and ‘packages’ , after years of denial of balance rehabilitation, is a strong statement on the game of numbers of the state and a mark of victory of the struggle of the people", the statement claimed.
"The fact that thickly populated communities continue to reside and struggle in the valley even after the Supreme Court's 'deadline' of July 31, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi deciding to postpone his August 12 mega inaugural shownat at the Narmada dam, is a vindication of peoples’ struggle", the statement said.
It added, "The denial of democratic space for parliamentary discussion on Narmada dam despite numerous MLAs and MPs raising serious concern and writing to the Prime Minister also speaks volumes of the government’s claims of having serious dialogue."
Meantime, said the statement, the issues that remained unresolved continued to pile up, including "the haphazard tin shades and uninhabitable state of many rehabilitation sites, no plan or preparation for the livelihood of thousands of landless families, the uncertain future of 15,946 oustees who have been declared ‘unaffected’ due to the revised backwater levels, and no house- plots or small plots to oustees."
The statement condemned the government's "unwillingness" to initiate a dialogue with the people of the valley, even as ushering in "reign of terror as demonstrated by the brutal and violent police action on August 7 at Chikhalda, seclusion of MedhaPatkar at the Indore Hospital in the name of ‘security’, forcible hospitalization of the fasting oustees and slapping of false cases on hundreds of people of the valley."

Comments

Neerav Patel said…
To go on fast, then break the fast, what is this tamasha? I don't understand why one should go on fast? Do they think the authorities are so kind-hearted that they would yield within days? Why these people still believe in this Gandhian gimmick, the protest through fast? It's futile. Please shed such antics and think of novel ways of protesting. Don't jeopardise your precious life if you are seriously fasting, or don't be ridiculous by breaking your fast halfway, if you are just pressurising.

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