Defend the Defenders: Human Rights Law Network

Medha Patkar arrested by MP police, sent to jail

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh state police on Sunday night when she was protesting with 17 other farmer activists of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS) in Chhindwara, 280 km from here, against the acquisition of land for the construction of a dam under the Pench Diversion Project. At 11 pm on Sunday, Patkar was bodily lifted by the police and whiske

medha patkar

medha patkar

d away in a van along with her supporters. She was presented before the court of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and remanded to jail custody. The SDM later refused to accept her bail application.

Patkar was sent to the Chhindwara district jail in the wee hours of Monday morning where she is now sitting in protest with the 17 KSS activists. The NBA leader has declared an indefinite hunger strike against her arrest demanding punitive action against additional superintendent of police V Jain and three constables who arrested her. Speaking against the construction of the dam, she said: The project and the dam has no environmental clearance and is being illegally constructed by the state. The district administration has imposed section 144 unconstitutionally on the people. Our protest will continue.” Case against Patkar was registered under sections 151 (knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) IPC and for violation of section 144 CrPC.

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government officially did the bhumi pujan” of the 51 metre dam on the Pench river in village Bamanwara on Saturday. The dam with an estimated expenditure of Rs 1900 crore is being constructed by the state irrigation department for the benefit of 200 villages across two districts including Chhindwara. But 300 farmers from 31 villages mainly Motthar, Machhabora and Bamanwara would be affected as 5,600 hectares of land is required either for the construction of the dam or would come under submersion.

Affected villagers have been protesting against the dam construction demanding higher rate of compensation. While 67 farmers have accepted the compensation fixed by the district administration at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs One lakh per acre of land, as many as 116 famers have declined the offer. They asked for Rs 5 lakh per acre of land and other benefits.

Medha Patkar reached Chhindwara to join the farmers’ protest and lodged at the residence of KSS activist Aaradhana Bhargava. Meanwhile, the state posted huge contingents of police force to resist any agitation by the affected farmers and activists. When Medha Patkar came out of Bhargava’s residence at 10 am on Sunday to join the farmers’ protest, she was stopped by the police. Patkar sat outside Bhargava’s house and started her protest with KSS demonstrators. A meeting between Patkar and the district administration was scheduled for Monday morning.

But the police reached the demonstration site at night, arrested Patkar and took her away with other activists. While Patkar continued to claim that the dam construction was illegal and has environmental clearance, the district administration argued otherwise. District collector Mahesh Chand said: The project got an environmental clearance as early as 1986 from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). In the year 2006, the state government secured fresh clearance which was approved.

Filed Under: Khalra Centre AlertsMedha Patkar

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