CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN 14 : Bhopal Die-In takes place in central New Delhi / Narmada mood sombre / Call to the Nation

From New Delhi, Monday, April 10, 2006
BHOPAL ACTION : The Bhopal Demo in Delhi today staged a dramatic, theatrical ‘die-in’ on Parliament Street in central New Delhi for about an hour today at 5 pm, blocking and disrupting traffic and attracting a fair crowd of people. About 50-60 Bhopalis lay down randomly at the intersection of the street where they are camped, Jantar Mantar Road, and Parliament Street and covered themselves with white shrouds. Some women and some children sat down among them, mourning them – and this was not theatre because for so many, it was a painful re-enactment of what happened that night twenty-one years ago in December 1984, and it could well have been their children or their parents who were there… and they cried, silently, remembering.
A George Bush with a massive head, almost like real, pranced around the dead bodies, accompanied by armed militia who menaced everyone around them.
The demo then broke out into a rally towards the Parliament Street Police Station.
But then there was more theatre : Because not only is Jantar Mantar the only area in the whole of Delhi where you are allowed to scream (CDDB – Cacim Delhi Demos Bulletin 1 : THE SCREAM), but the way the state has set up things, the whole act of protest – in this tiny cage, or stage, erected by the state – is itself now rendered as theatre.
The Bhopal rally – remembering, after all, the massacre of several thousand people – marched up to the barricades that the police had set up (three rows of steel fencing, with rows of police lined up behind each one of them), and the police asked them whether they would like to court arrest. The rally had already decided that they would not (because they want to continue with their dharna, in particular the hunger strike starting tomorrow), so they said so, and so the police just looked on, looking rather bored; and the rally instead stood there with their banners, proudly and angrily chanting slogans. And then returned to their camp, continuing to sing slogans as they marched.
But what if they had said ‘Yes’ ? Presumably, the police would then have taken up battle positions instead of looking bored, and the rally would have charged, and the batons would have fallen on their heads, and they would have been arrested and dragged into the police station. In other words, the whole act of protest in Delhi is now regulated, controlled, commodified.
How long are movements going to accept this?!
The Jantar Mantar site looks different this evening. About 100 more Bhopalis have come in from Bhopal, and so their camp is now much bigger and spread out along much more of the footpath than they had been, so far. The Bhopalis lit candles in the median strip (where the play had taken place the other day), and gathered around, and sang.
And tomorrow morning, they go on an indefinite hunger strike.
The Narmada camp is sombre, waiting to see what position the government of India will take based on their fact-finding mission last week. The word was that there has been a division of opinion among the Ministers, with one, Saif-ud-din Soz, Minister for Water resources, reportedly being sympathetic to the NBA’s demands, but another, Meira Kumar, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, being more concerned about how such a position would reflect on her ministry and its officials.
Another analysis doing the rounds is that the central government, headed by the Congress-I, is worried about the impact any position that is favourable to the NBA will have on its future electoral chances in the state of Gujarat – which is presently ruled by the right wing BJP and Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister who infamously ruled the state when the Gujarat pogroms took place three years ago, but who then came back with a big majority in the next elections despite all that had been revealed about his role.
One version of this analysis has it that the Congress-I president, Sonia Gandhi, has been warned that if her party takes any such position, it will “lose Gujarat for another twenty years”.
And another analysis and prognosis yet is that the government is mostly likely to just not take a position at all, saying something like “the subject is sub judice” – since it was the Supreme Court that gave the instruction that full rehabilitation has to be achieved before the dam height is increased – and so ‘naturally’, the government cannot interfere…. After all this, and after thirteen days of hunger strike.
In the meanwhile, a group of NBA activists and supporters have together, in their individual capacities, have issued a ‘Call to the Nation’, urging people from all over India to come to Delhi by day after tomorrow, April 12, to collectively demand a just position from the government. Such a gathering would, or could, play a role whichever way the government goes in its position – which will hopefully be tomorrow. See below.
[1] Urgent Call To The Nation (April 10)
[2] NBA Press Release : Day of artist solidarity with the people of Narmada / Indefinite fast for justice enters in 12th day / Medha sends letter to PM demanding her release / NBA awaits Ministers report from their visit to the valley / National and International solidarity rises (April 9)
[3] The situation is still fairly grim (April 10).
Jai Sen, for CACIM
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available here.
—— Forwarded Message——
From: Vishal Thakre
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2006 16:14:46 +0530
To: ‘Vishal Thakre’
Subject: Urgent Call to the Nation
Come to Delhi
Collectively Rise and Speak Out Against
Unjust Displacement and Forced Eviction
12th April 2006
11 am – 4 pm
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
Dear friends,
As you are aware, the last few months have witnessed an alarming escalation in the violence of “development” across the country. From the indiscriminate police firing on adivasis in Kalinga Nagar (Orissa) and the fishing community in Gangavaram (Andhra Pradesh) to the ongoing plunder of tribal lands and usurpation of natural resources, from the large-scale slum demolitions in cities to the ongoing construction of destructive large dams, from “urban renewal” plans and the construction of shopping malls and entertainment complexes on the land of the poor to the corporatisation of agriculture, the calculated scheme of forced evictions and rampant displacement of the poor in the guise of development is obvious.
The decision to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam to 121.92 metres marks an extreme move in this direction. The ongoing construction of the dam is raising not only the height of the dam but also the voices of the displaced and to be displaced, not just in the Narmada Valley but across the country. The indefinite fast to demand a halt to the construction of the dam is on its 13th day with Medha Patkar and Jamsing Nargave continuing their fast in hospital and Bhagwatibai Patidar at Jantar Mantar. JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy and others continue on the 6th day of their fast at Jantar Mantar, where across the street, people from Bhopal are also on dharna.
People across the country have rallied to express their support, and the outcry against this and all such injustices is growing. However, despite the ongoing fast and the international and national condemnation of this decision, the government is still deliberating over issues.
This perverse paradigm of profits at the cost of the poor has resulted in the deprivation and destruction of lives and livelihoods of millions across the country. The very survival of millions is at stake. The urban and rural poor as well as natural resource dependent communities are more vulnerable than ever before.
People’s movements have been resisting such unjustifiable and inhuman paradigms of development for decades, but non-violent struggles are increasingly being targeted and the human rights of those who challenge injustice are being violated, as is evident in the recent firing of fisher folk protesting the Gangavaram port and the police attacks against Narmada Bachao Andolan activists in Delhi. We are at a very critical juncture in the course of Indian history. Peoples’ lives are under constant threat.
The alarming course of current events and the disturbing nature of things to come, raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the Indian State and its willingness to function democratically.
Please join us urgently!!
Affected people, their supporters, intelligentsia and civil society, while protesting in their own districts and states feel very strongly that the need of the hour is for us to come together and raise our voices jointly.
Please come in large numbers to Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on April 12th. We need you to be here to participate in this mass gathering to call for action against unjust displacement, forced evictions, and human rights violations!
There is no time left, so please make efforts to leave immediately and join us in Delhi!!!
In solidarity,
Representatives from peoples’ movements and their supporters including: Dipti Bhatnagar, Yogini Khanolkar, Medha Patkar, Clifton Rosario, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Mona Das, Awadesh, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Kavita Srivastava, Alok Agarwal, Kavita Krishnan, Bhupendra Rawat, S. Lahiri, Simpreet Singh, Om Prakash Sandhu, Nikhil Dey, Rakesh Rafiq, Ranvir Singh Rathor, Shivani Chaudhry, Kamala Yadav and others.
On 10.4.06 8:01 pm, “Initiative India” wrote:
Narmada Bachao Andolan
62 Gandhi Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh 451551. Ph: 07290-222464
C/o B-13 Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Vadodara, Gujarat 390023.
Ph: 0265-2282232
Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Dhadgaon, dist. Nandurbar, Maharashtra.
Ph: 02595-220620
April 9, 2006
· Day of artist solidarity with the people of Narmada
· 212 artist release statement in support of the NBA struggle
· Indefinite fast for justice enters in 12th day
· Medha sends letter to PM demanding her release and stressing the gross injustice being committed with every increase of the Sardar Sarovar dam
· NBA awaits Ministers report from their visit to the valley
· National and International solidarity rises
The 24th day of the NBA dharna at Jantar Mantar was marked as a day of artists expressing solidarity with the people’s struggle. An exhibition of children’s paintings was installed at the site; while one group sang songs of social justice. Several singers, writers, photographers and filmmakers participated in the daylong programme. ‘Films for Freedom’ issued a statement signed by 212 artists. Sahmat also supported the programme.
The international and national support for the movement to stop further construction of the dam has been overwhelming, with dharnas, solidarity fast and letters pouring in. On Thursday marches in Bangalore and Plachimada were accompanied by a 24 hours fast. In Pune, with 50 organisations culminating in the submission of a petition to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra with almost 400 signatures. On Friday 150 people worldwide signed up for a one-day solidarity fast, while fasts were held in Chennai and Bangalore, Jalana and Auranagabad. Yesterday more than 200 people in Bangalore and more than 400 people under the banner of National Alliance of People’s Movement in Kolkata undertook relay fasts. Actions were also held in Latur & Parbhani, Himachal Pradesh, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Mumbai, Raipur and many others.
So far, more than 2000 people worldwide have signed an online petition in protest against the construction of the dam, while an open challenge to Sardar Sarovar engineers has over 600 signatures.
A letter from the President of ‘Right Livelihood Award’ in support of Medha Patkar was also sent to the PM. Similar petitions, memorandums, and letters of concern to the concerned authorities have poured in, including from Rivers’ Group, Water & Energy Users’ Federation (Nepal), Arunachal Pradesh Citizen’s Right, Childe Rights and You (CRY), Delhi University, Forum of Religious for Justice & Peace and International Farakka Committee.
As the NBA awaits the report of three ministers who have returned from the Narmada Valley, Dr B D Sharma who was also independent observer says, “The vally is setting with discontent. The false claims of rehabilitation on paper are clearly exposed when you see the ground reality
Dipti Bhatnagar Yogini Khanolkar Clifton D Rozario
On 10.4.06 7:53 pm, “Priya Ranjan” wrote:
Dear all,
The situation is still fairly grim. The fast by Medha Patkar,
Jamsingh and Bhagwati enter the 13th day. Medha and Jamsinghbhai remain forcibly isolated at AIIMS hospital even though Medha has written to the PM asking to be released. To add insult to injury, a host of cases have been slapped on Medha. The ministerial team which visited the valley is yet to make their findings public even though there is a lot of pressure to do so.
Please continue to call/write/FAX to the PMO. I have gotten responses so someone *reads* them. The petition and fast sites are still open: organize local fasts/solidarity marches and tell us and the PMO about it.
Email for the PMO:
Tell him to release Medha and Jamsinghbhai immediately, make the reports public and stop further construction until rehabilitation is completed. Remind him that it is in total contempt of the Supreme Court ruling of March 2006 as well as basic human rights and dignity.
More information on the visits of the ministerial team and the NBA press release on this
manoj saranathan
CACIM – India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Phone: +91-11-4155 1521, 2433 2451
* FORTHCOMING in 2006 :
o Nayi Rajniti (‘New Politics’), Hindi edition of Talking New Politics, Sen and Saini, eds 2005
o Nayi Subah Ki Or (‘Towards A New Dawn’), volume 1 of Hindi edition of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires
o Are Other Worlds Possible ? Books 2 & 3 – ‘Interrogating Empires’ & ‘Imagining Alternatives’
* Open Space Webspace :
* WSFDiscuss – an open discussion listserve on the World Social Forum and cultures of politics in movements : Send an empty email to
* Out in 2005-6 : World Social Forum : Challenging Empires – in German, Japanese, Spanish, and now in Hindi and Urdu !
January 2005 : ‘Are Other Worlds Possible ? Talking NEW Politics’
Preview :
Publishers : Zubaan /
Tel: +91-11-2652 1008, 2686 4497, and 2651 4772
In late 2004 :’Explorations in Open Space : The World Social Forum and Cultures of Politics’
Issue 182 of the International Social Science Journal
Editorial advisers : Chloé Keraghel & Jai Sen
2004 Book : ‘World Social Forum : Challenging Empires’
Edited by Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, and Peter Waterman
India / South Asia distribution : Viveka Foundation,,
2005 : NOW OUT also in German, Japanese, Spanish, and forthcoming in Hindi and Urdu
Jai Sen
CACIM – India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
[+ while travelling, ALSO] M 91-98189 11325
T 91-11-4155 1521 and 2433 2451 – Please note change in one phone no
Italitar, Hattigauda
T 977-1-437 0019 and 437 0112

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