Demands immediate and unconditional release and justice to Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway displaced adivasis
The National Alliance of People’s Movements expresses its strong condemnation of the arbitrary arrest and continued detention of 75 years old veteran Gandhian and social activist Shri Bhau Bhuskute and 47 other peaceful agitators of the Adivasi Punarvasan Sanghatan, who were protesting the displacement and denial of even just compensation for the remaining 50 farming families affected by the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway, which was built way back in 1957 and expanded till 1974.
Bhau Bhuskute and others were staging a very brief protest on the highway to highlight, in particular, the conditions of 9 families, amongst others, who have not received even a rupee since years. It is ridiculous and reprehensible that the State could not tolerate the expression of public protest even for 10 minutes and ordered that Bhau and all others protesting on the road be lifted and sent to the Kalyan Jail, leaving hundreds of others to themselves. Cases under Section 37(1) & (3) of the Bombay Police Act and Section 341 & 188 of the Indian Penal Code have been registered against all of them. All the arrested are continuing with their rightful protest even within the Jail and have rejected bail.
It is ironical that Bhau Bhuskute, an expert on land laws and author of many books on the subject and a guide to many people’s organizations was meted out this treatment on Gandhi Jayanthi! His father, late Vinayak Rao Bhuskute was also a well known activist who fought for the Mulshi Dam displaced, even amidst the freedom movement. NAPM Convenor, Mukta Srivastava also visited the Jail today afternoon and expressed solidarity and support. We have already written a letter of protest to the Home Minster Shri R.R. Patil demanding the unconditional release and dialogue.
Though the National Highways Authority of India, was constituted by an Act of the Parliament way back in 1988, there is virtually no mention either in the Act nor in any subsequent rule or policy for ensuring timely and just rehabilitation to those who would be displaced and affected by its projects, even as the NHAI continues to uproot thousands of families with each of its grand project. NHAI Act has no provision of rehabilitation, it only talks of compensation, that too has been kept vague as the Act does not say that compensation should be provided before displacement.
We condemn the attitude of the State Government, in crushing and curbing the freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful public protest, after the absolutely illegal occupation of adivasi lands, by passing anti land alienation laws. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Shri Bhau Bhuskute and all the activists and the prompt and full rehabilitation of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway affected. We also demand that the state government tenders a public apology to the Satyagrahis.
Medha Patkar Ulka Mahajan Simpreet Singh Sanjay M.G. Suniti S.R.