On 6th August, people representing movements and organizations from across karnataka and India took part in a demonstration at Mysore Bank Circle, Bengaluru, to voice support for the People of the Narmada valley, who are about to lose their homes, land, livelihoods, and lives. “Narmada ulisi!Manavarannu Ulisi!” (Save Narmada, Save Humanity) echoed in the air in the city’s busiest square, witness to thousands of people passing by.
Among those present in the gathering were a large number of youth from various student organizations from across the country, who had gathered for the All India Convention of Student Struggles- AICSS, which expressed complete solidarity with the Narmada struggle. There were representatives from many people’s organizations part of the National Alliance of Peoples Movements- including Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka Domestic Workers Union, students groups from Tumkur, etc. Joining the protest were voices from Dalit and Adivasi movements from Madhya Pradesh, Swaraj Abhiyan, and many concerned citizens.
It has been 32 years since the birth of Narmada Bachao Andolan, a non-violent struggle which has questioned the disourse of a violent development model that creates large scale displacement and ecological devastation. The adivasi people, farmers and fisherfolk, have taken part in countless demonstrations, petitions, satyagraha and fasts over the many years leading to key consequences of the struggle like the withdrawal of World Bank funding, and Court orders for just rehabilitation.
The situation took a grave turn when in 2014, the Modi Govt increased the height of the dam by 17m(from 121m to 138m), and over a month ago, closed the gates of the dam. This will force up to 40,000 families to abandon their homes and livelihoods without rehabilitation. Instead of following legal norms on rehabilitation, the MP Govt and the Narmada Control Authority are pushing out people into temporary tin sheds with no amenieties!
|KT Gangadhar of KRRS extending Solidarity|
A little less than two weeks ago, 12 people, including Medha Patkar, started an indefinite fast demanding just and lawful rehabilitation. However there has been no dialogue by the state government or the Centre, but only appeals to call off the fast without any assurances about rehabilitation.
Among those present at the demonstration on Sunday at Bengaluru, K.T. Gangadhar of KRRS called to mind the June 6th tragedy when 6 farmers were killed by the Madhya Pradesh police during a protest. He emphasised the need for a large and strong mobilisation, to force the government to pay heed to the voice of the population. He also spoke in support of Medha Patkar and the other fasting protestors, saying she is one of the most respected activists of this era. He put forward the complete support of KRRS and the rest of Karnataka for the movement.
In addition, Prof. Haragopal of the All india Forum for Right to Ecucation (AIFRTE) tackled the argument of the need for development, often used by the government to justify the Narmada project: “Development should lead towards equality and justice”, thus he expressed his support to the people of Narmada. Madhuri from an organization for Dalits and Adivasis of Narmada region, highlighted the situation of the people who are already being forced to leave and the disinterest of the authorities, “Neither the High court of Madya Pradesh, nor the government are able to answer to what will happen to the victims of Narmada”. Kavitha Kuruganti from the Alliance of Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), said the CM of Madhya Pradesh must be ashamed for not responding to the ongoing hunger strike- instead of engaging in dialogue, the govt is making false statements and playing a game of numbers!
|Madhuri behan from Barwani (Madhya Pradesh)|
The protestors and the movements collectively (National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, All India convention of Student Struggles, and others) called out to both the government of Madya Pradesh and the government of India to stop the violence against the peaceful protestors, to immediately open a dialogue with those on fast and finally to open the gates of the dam, until a complete rehabilitation is undertaken for each and every family concerned by the project. “Beke beku, nyaya beku”(“We want Justice”)
This a blogpost by Corentin(Karan), who is interning with KRRS.