NBA:The democratic right to dissent under threat

Narmada Bachao Andolan is in one more battle. This time it is not the Sardar Sarovar affected population, the fighting adivasis and the struggling farmers-labourers- artisans-fish-workers to be ousted, not less than 40,000 families, who are targeted by our opponents, but the Andolan itself. The sedition petition with such a serious charge, filed by a corporate man from Gujarat, have made us parties and challenge the UPA government take action against us. The Supreme Court refused to issue any notice to Medha Patkar or any, to order any inquiry into the charges but issued notice to the NBA, a few months back.

The petition which, in short, tries to convince the apex court in the country that to question any project proposed or planned by the State - the executive or any authority - is in itself sedition. Claiming that such an opposition leads to deprivation of the beneficiaries, their right to benefit, to development and to life, the petitioner has made false and fabricated charges against the people's movement. Every action in the past - organizing people, empowering them, questioning the funding agencies who push the projects at the cost of law of the land, is condemned and distorted. The principle of eminent domain is in a way applied, not merely for land acquisition but project imposition, as per the petitioner.

This petition filed by Mr V K Saxena of some organization from Gujarat, called National Council of Civil Liberties is thus a move challenging all the movements and people's struggles in the country and may prove to be an attempt to forbid all opposition, even raising the real issues of costs and benefits, social and environmental impacts or distributive justice, which in turn make a project desirable and developmental or otherwise.

We alert and appeal to the people's movements and other organizations to take cognizance of this legal strategy that may be used against any and every organization. We also appeal to you to send your condemnation to the PM, Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister urgently asking the UPA government to take a firm, democratic and just position against Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh governments who have desired to get the case going. The UPA should be asked to file an affidavit, questioning the petition, its legal and moral basis to establish their secular face and role.

Act before it's too late.

Ashish Mandloi, Kamala Yadav, Noorji Padvi, Yogini Khanolkar