PUDR condemns the recent spate of violence unleashed by district administration of Khandwa against people affected by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams and activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in the district headquarters over the past two-three days.
It all began following a call for peaceful demonstration on the 28th of October by the NBA over the non-implementation of a Jabalpur High Court order. The court’s order directed the MP government to allot 5 acres of land to the elder son of each of the oustees/displaced. On the 29th, in a most shocking development, several activists of the NBA were physical manhandled and beaten within the premises of the Collectorate by the police force deployed there. This was followed by arrests and detention of more activists and search and seizure of the Andolan office on the 30th. So far 20 activists have been arrested so far under sections 332, 353, 323, 294, 188, 342,147, 452 of the IPC.
The administration’s attempt to forcefully silence the protesting voices against unjust and anti-people development projects, represents a most dangerous trend. In a democracy, where freedom of expression and association are constitutionally guaranteed, attempts by the district administration to squash peaceful dissent through coercion, represents a case of extreme administrative high headedness and irresponsibility.
PUDR therefore demands the immediate and unconditional release of all the activists and calls upon the office of the Chief Minister to immediately take steps to implement the September 23rd order of the Jabalpur High Court. Additionally, it also calls upon the State administration to set up an enquiry committee and initiate proceedings against errant officials of the police and district administration.