Action 2007: Medha Patkar and Other Women Activists Manhandled and Detained

Hundreds of women, dalits, adivasis and muslims joined hands to fight
against untouchability and communalism as similar forms of victimization
and marginalization. With slogans of “Jai Bhim! Jai Birsa Munda” and
"Hum Apna Adhikar Maangte" – Nahin Kisi se Bhikh Maangte”, the most
marginalized groups from across the country gathered together in thousands
in the Jan Sansad held in Action 2007 at Jan Mantar to assert their
right to life, equality, justice and freedom from discrimination. Ministers
invited were Ram Vilas Paswan, Ambika Soni, Fakir Bhai Veghela, Meira
Kumar, Mohd.Hamid Ansar, but none of them turned up.

ACTION 2007, a collective protest by more than 200 organizations is
taking place at Jantar Mantar. In all their assertions, they outlined the
deprived state in which they continue to live, even 60 years after
independence which also indicated their growing anger and impatience with
the apathetic system. They demanded for greater representation of the
dalits, minorities, adivasis and women in political leadership and
awareness and assertion of their rights to basic services.
Dalit groups shared numerous instances of continued atrocities and the
virtual non implementation of the Atrocities Act. Instances of
government programs meant for dalits and adivasis usurped by the general
category people were cited. Kranti Kumar from Chitoor Andhra Pradesh cited
examples of a government land distribution program targeted to dalits
yet under the program the general castes took away whatever land was
given in the midst of wide claims of success. An adivasi activist from
Tamil Nadu spoke of the fake loans taken on their names on a scheme
ironically meant for the advisis and they got to know about this only when the
recovery officials came and harassed them. Ramsharan from Rajasthan
gave instances of youth regularly persecuted under false cases for daring
to break the caste barriers through inter caste marriages. Musahars of
UP, one of the most backward within the dalits are falsely branded as
dacoits and regularly killed in fake encounters. Hundreds of Mushahars
are currently lodged in various jails of the Purvanchal region of UP.
The economic condition of the dalits and adivasis has worsened. Dalits
and adivasis are losing their traditional sources of livelihood such as
weaving, leather work and crafts to increased mechanization. Land
alienation is also increasing as was indicated by the fact that from
1981-2001, land loss of adivasis has been 12 percent. Great anguish was
expressed by the dalit women's group speaking of dalit intellectual
marginalization, citing cases of Valmiki women who formed groups and bravely
fought the British in the war of independence in 1857, yet there is no
mention of their contribution to the freedom struggle.
Muslim groups exhorted muslims to fight for their right to education,
health, food, livelihood, life and equality. They spoke for the need of
a joint struggle between muslims and dalits as there is little
difference in their condition and discrimination that they face. Muslim women's
groups expressed the need for a change in the personal law to make it
more gender sensitive and appealed to the muslim men to encourage women
from their community to get educated, struggle for equal rights and
reject the purdah system that shackles them. Zeenat from the Yamuna Pushta
spoke of the severe sexual exploitation of poor muslim women who face
it without support from the community and the government with little
education and sources of livelihood and begging as the only option left
for them.
Today on the World Water Day a delegation of about 100 activists,
mostly women from slums from different states who were participating in
ACTION 2007 went to Yojana Bhavan to place the people's problems related to
water before the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and other
The demands concerning water that were to be submitted were briefly, to
end the privatization of water and restore water supply to public taps,
to cancel the interlinking of rivers project and to declare a
moratorium on big dams.
Among the arrested were Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan and
National Alliance of People's Movements), Gautam Bandyopadhyay (Nadi Ghati
Morcha), Yogini Khanolkar (NBA), Simpreet Singh (NAPM), Sister Celia
(Domestic Workers Union, Bangalore), Mukta Srivastava (NAPM), Nidhi Agarwal
(Saheli). The arrest speaks of gross human rights violations. Force was
used to detain the activists and section 144 was used without warning..
Women activists were mal-handled and arrested by the police force.

Co-ordination Committee ACTION 2007
Mobile contact - 9910345405

For further details please
Delhi Office: Action 2007, 1-A, Goela Lane, Under Hill Road Civil
Lines, Delhi – 54 Tel.: 011-23933307 ,
Rajendra Ravi (0-9868200316 ), Vijayan MJ (0-9868165471 )
Mumbai Office: Action 2007, C/0 Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 28-29, First
Floor 'A wing' Haji Habib Building,
Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (East), Mumbai-400014, E-Mail:
Tel.: 022-24150529