The NBA's response to the notice from the supreme court, 8 July 2006

- 62, Gandhi Marg, Badwani, M.P.-451551 (Ph.07290-222464),
- c/o B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda-390007 (0265-2282232)
- Maitri Niwas, Dhadgaon, Maharashtra

*Press Note/ 8.7.2006*

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While the Narmada Bachao Andolan will be giving a fitting reply to the notice issued by the Supreme Court regarding the handling the foreign funds and the so called seditious activities, we are amused at the very absurdity of these allegations and the alacrity with which these notices were issued. It must be clarified that the Supreme Court has only given the notices regarding the allegations made by the Gujarat based National Committee of Civil Liberties (NCCL) and NOT ordered any enquiry, as has been claimed by the outfit. However, the NBA is prepared to face any kind of enquiry.

The allegations are brought under a well-thought out plan of diverting the nation's attention from the serious issue of the imminent submergence displacement in the Narmada valley and suppressing the larger nationwide people's resistance to the government's policy of large scale displacement and eviction of millions of farmers and tribals, with the connivance of the multinational capital.

Though the case is sub-judice, the NCCL president had chosen to make wild allegations against the NBA in public through the media; therefore, we are constrained to issue the rebuttal. All the allegations in the petition are fabricated. Previously, around 1990, the Gujarat Samachar had to tender apology for making such wild allegations against Medha Patkar. In the present case also we would proceed against these unfounded charges. For last twenty years, the NBA has been struggling for the rights of the people in the Narmada valley in a non-violent way, braving the police atrocities, cheating, frauds, the money and muscle-power. At the same time the Andolan has also strived to evolve an alternative model of sustainable and equitable development in the Narmada valley and all over India.

The NBA's deficit finances or source of income are an open book. The NBA carries on its activity on the small donations made by the supporters all over India and from the funds raised by the people in the villages in the valley. The incidents that are mentioned in the so-callled petition are out of Narmada valley and have no relation with the Narmada struggle.

The allegations the foreign funds by the NCCL are the same rehashed charges made some seven years ago by the NCCL. The NBA had already made clear its position regarding these charges, which we consider imaginary and based on twisted and half-baked information. It seems to be a strategy by the V,K, Saksena of NCCL, who along with the BJP leader in Gujarat, one Amit Thakkar, were booked by Ahmedabad police for an assault on Medha Patkar in Sabarmati Ashram, in 2002. This is politically motivated petition, as both the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states, mentioned specifically as the respondent in the petition are the BJP-ruled states Rahul Banerjea was never an activist of the NBA and had no financial links with the NBA.

The NCCL's definitions of 'national interests' or 'anti-national activities' are specious.

Besides, we assume that Public Interest Litigations (PIL) are filed and are admitted primarily against the violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens and marginalized groups.

We consider that the notice issued to the NBA is a warning for all the people's movements in the country which are challenging the usurpation of people' rights, their natural resources at the hands of the national and multinational corporate powers. It is an irony that while the Ambanis, Jindals, and Mittals are given red carpet treatment from the state and central governments, handing them over the land and water of this country, the tribals and farmers are either shot dead in Kalinganagar or being submerged in the Sardar Sarovar. Same is the fate of the workers, farmers, unorganized and organized labour, Dalits, other backwards castes in this country.

The NBA will file its response to the notice. But the issue is much larger than that. It is a time that all the people's movements and organizations must evolve a coordinated response to the onslaught of the corporate takeover in the country and suppression of any dissent. However, we are sure that the corporate powers will not have walkover in this country. The people - the farmers, workers, tribals and Dalits- will fiercely defend their rights, livelihood and their natural resources, come what may.

*Sanjay Sangvai *