The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has cried foul over arrest of two of its senior activists and ten farmers, including four women, in Rajpur tehsil of Badwani district, allegedly over false charges of disrupting government work and assault.
The 12 persons, including NBA activists Devram Kathora and Mukesh Bhagoria, were arrested on Monday. A statement by NBA said the activists and farmers had gone to Rajpur police station to complain about arrest threat being issued to them by some police personnel at the behest of officials of Narmada Valley Development Authority (Indira Sagar Project) and contractors working on the canal of the project at Mundla village.
Two days before the arrest, the officials of Indira Sagar Project (ISP) along with the contractor and the sub-divisional magistrate of Rajpur had reached the farmland of Babubhai of Mundla along with police force to start work on construction of canal of ISP.
Babibhai and other associates protested the continuation of the work on the ground that the NVDA had failed to clear up the muck deposited on other part of their farmland during the construction, despite MP high court ruling in this regard.
Medha Patkar of NBA told HT that an argument had ensued between the officials and the farmers, but the SDM present on the scene had intervened promising to clear up the issue soon. However later, police approached these farmers and told them that case had been registered against them and they would be arrested soon.
"The farmers and the activists had gone to police station with documents including court orders to lodge a complaint of high handedness, but they were arrested instead," Patkar said.
The district collector of Badwani, Ravindra Singh, said that he had information about the arrests due to disruption of government work. "I would not like to comment further, because the issue is pending with HC." The 12 persons have since been sent to judicial custody till October 27.