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24 May 2011

At about 6.oo pm Dr. Sunilam, Aradhana Bhargava and several leaders and activists of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti were viciously attacked by the goons of Adani Power Limited in Chhindwara district, MP. They were set upon on the Narsinghpur Road near Bhulamoh Gaon by 15-16 goons of Adani . Their car was smashed and they were brutally beaten. Sunilam has sustained a head injury and has fractures in both arms. Aradhana Bhargava too has been hurt. The SP though informed immediately did not take action.

Adani Power Limited has been assigned the contract for setting up a 1,320 MW coal-based thermal power plant in Chhindwara. The water for the project will be drawn from the Pench river on which the Pench Diversion Project is planned to be completed by 2012-13. While the land on which the Thermal Power Project is planned was taken by the MP government 24 years ago, it hadn’t taken possession. As a result the villagers were continuing to farm the land. Two years ago the villagers were again served notice, and have since been agitating against the Project as they don’t want to give up their land.
The immediate context of the attack is that the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti is organising a padyatra from 28-31 May against the Pench Thermal Power Project beginning from the Project site. The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti has also been raising the issue of compensation for villagers displaced by the Pench [water] Diversion Project. Sunilam and Bhargava both members of the Samjwadi Party and respected farmers’ leaders were returning after holding talks with villagers effected by the Project.

Today’s attack was not the first sign of aggression on Adani’s part. In February Adani’s goons had also intervened at a Jan Sunwai and tried to disrupt proceedings. A students’ fact-finding team that had visited the area last year was also threatened by Adani’s men. The attack by Adani Power Limited’s armed goons is yet another instance of how powerful corporate houses are resorting to organized violence perpetrated through their private mafias to silence those who come in the way of their interests and to break people’s attempts to organize on the issues of land, water, forests. The fact that a prominent person like Sunilam- an ex-legislator- could be attacked so brutally in broad day-light only emphasizes the audacity of the state-corporate nexus, and the impunity it provides.

PUDR demands:
1. Immediate action against the Adani Power Limited .
2. The District administration ensure that the padyatra proceeds unhindered.

Paramjit Singh and Harish Dhawan