CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN / CDDB 19: The media's obsession with celebrity, reporters focus on Aamir Khan but show little interest in why he was at the two dharna sites

From Kathmandu, Saturday, April 15, 2006
TODAY is / was the day when the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority is due to meet in New Delhi on the Narmada dam issue, to examine the government’s fact-finding report and to come out with a final position for the government of India to take; from 11 am onwards. (For details, see CDDB 16 and 18.)
Please watch for news and updates, including on the NBA’s position on the government’s decision. BREAKING NEWS : SEE BELOW FOR REPORT : NO DECISION
MONDAY (April 17) is when there is a hearing in the Supreme Court of India on the Narmada case – and where, depending on the decision the government has taken by then, and certainly, if it has not taken a
position by then, ‘eminent citizens’ may well put forward / add a fresh petition to the case, demanding a stay on all further raising of the height of the dam, pending absolutely definite rehabilitation of all those being displaced and with a clear margin of six months, as the Court had itself ruled, in 2005.
>From this issue of CDDB onwards, and for the next while, item 1 (‘Delhi Demo Diary Notes ‘) will be largely based on reports coming in from Delhi from Gra-Dilseacht Cairdeas of The Other Media on the Bhopal demo and from Sebastian Rodrigues of CACIM on the Narmada one. Thanks, Seby and Gra-Dilseacht !
Delhi :
At the moment, we have sparse news on developments in Delhi, because most of our contacts are presently in Mumbai for a key meeting there on another but related front (for a reference, see CDDB 15). But some people from Delhi organisations did attend the co-ordination meeting between various groups on April 11 2006 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, that decided on a National Day of Action in India on April 18, to support the Narmada and Bhopal actions (see CDDB 17, misnumbered
16; April 13 2006). And see item 1 below for a fragment of news from Delhi.
But we have for you here a link at a very interesting cyber-experiment that has been going on and that will continue, if the organisers can catch up with the shards of a shattered community : Cybermohalla, run by Sarai, at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, which set up computers in one particular community – now destroyed shattered and scattered by the Delhi demolitions, where they
encouraged young kids to blog their own perceptions of the world around them – and then of the evictions they were facing. @ You won’t find only that, and you will have to look for it, but those shards of other lenses and of what the
kids through them are there.
Jai Sen, for CACIM
In this issue of CDDB :
[1] Delhi Demo Diary Notes (April 14-15)
[2] Bhopal dharna Update April 14: Hunger Fast Day 4 / Aamir Khan expresses solidarity (April 14-15)
[3] A distorted world : Bollywood star Aamir Khan at the Bhopal dharna (April 14-15)
[4] Press Update: Bhopal Parents of Children with health effects speak out (April 15)
[5] Green Party in Ireland calls on their Minister for Foreign Affairs to put pressure on India over Bhopal (April 13/ 15)
[6] Don’t Damn Narmada (April 14/15)
[7] SSP Engineers Lower Claim on Power Generated: Press Release, April 15 2006
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available
@ :
[1] Delhi Demo Diary Notes
April 14-15 2006
Based on reports from Sebastian Rodrigues, of CACIM :
• The highlight of the day was a candle light procession from Mandi House, an important cultural junction in New Delhi, to Jantar Mantar, organised by the JNU Students’ Union in solidarity with the Bhopal and Narmada dharnas. Aside from protesters from the two dharnas, students and other activists, writers, and university professors participated in a two-hour walk, sending slogans in the air and singing songs of protests and resistance, and even some of revolution.
Right in the front of the rally was the dance troupe composed of Narmada activists giving another dimension to the protest rally. The most visible group was the AISA (All India Students’ Association, whose President Mona Das was one of those who were earlier on
solidarity hunger strike with the Narmada protestors), with their student force from various colleges. All together, around 300 people participated in the walk. After the walk, various people addressed the rally, expressing their support to the two hunger strikes.
Amongst the people who spoke were Prof Chamanlal of JNU teachers Association, Prof Geelani from Delhi University, a professor from Jamia Millia Islamia University, Rajni Tilak, Rasheeda Bi of Bhopal, Kamla Jiju, writer Arundhati Roy, and others. Kavita Krishnan of AISA, who has been closely working with the Narmada dharna, moderated the meeting.
• Yesterday the 14th was the 17th day of the Narmada hunger strike and the 4th day of the Bhopal hunger strike.
• The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority is DUE TO MEET TODAY on the Narmada dam issue, to examine the government’s fact-finding report.
• Seven more people are to join Narmada anushan (hunger strike) from today, April 15. They are Amarnath Bhai, Prof Yadav, Vandana Prasad, Bela Bhatia, Rajendra Ravi, Daya Bai, and Suchita Anand.
• Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to meet with the Bhopal protesters (as had earlier been scheduled – see CDDB 18). The reason given by his office was that since Thursday evening, he was unwell due to a cold, which was also reported in the press (that he had
supposedly cancelled all his engagements that evening). The only problem is that as far as we know, the most honourable Prime Minister did however, find time to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, at 4:30 pm on the same day. It is undoubtedly perhaps only a coincidence that the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority was due to meet today, Saturday, and that Gujarat is the state that stands to gain the most from the Sardar Sarovar dam.
• There was apparently NO CONSENSUS In the Review Committee meeting on increasing the dam height of Sardar Sarovar project. No decision was taken. The final verdict on the issue has been left up to Prime Minister to take. (Information from Yogini Khanolkar
of the NBA.) Delhi news
• The Kisan Manch and Dehat Morcha in Delhi are planning a rally to protest against demolitions of settlements in Delhi on April 20 2006 at Harola Village, Noida – Sector 5, at 2.00 pm. (Information
from Babu Singh Arya, National President, Dehat Manch.)
[2] Bhopal dharna Update April 14: Hunger Fast Day 4 / Aamir Khan expresses solidarity – Nishant
After a damper this morning when our PM postponed the meeting with the Bhopalis citing a lame flu excuse, the campaign got a little media boost with a visit of a top Hindi-movies star – Aamir Khan. He sat with the Bhopalis and talked, no listened, for nearly half an hour. He then went across to do the same with the Narmada camp. Other stars and director of the now cult movie – ‘Rang De Basanti (colour me saffron)” were also present. It was, not surprisingly, a media circus. With Nity, Vimalendu and Aamir’s security personnel trying very hard to keep a crowd of paparazzi out. They were trampling all over the place,
including the Bhopalis and supporters on fast in a mad desperation to get a glimpse of the star. It was a deplorable scene. We probably had more media representation today than combined till date. Madhu counted 15 channels in all, I believe.
After spending more than an hour at the two dharnas, listening patiently, he held a press conference expressing solidarity with both of the oldest campaigns in this country. He stated that the PM should give the Bhopalis an audience as soon as possible. He himself will try to persuade him. And the height of the Sardar Sarovar should be not raised until the rehabilitation is complete. He was then questioned on the apparent contradiction on publicly endorsing Coke amidst its environmental and human rights violations in Plachimada, Mehendiganj and elsewhere. He sidestepped the question by feigning ignorance and that he endorses the product not its manufacturing process. I fail to see the distinction. If you endorse a product, you are implicitly endorsing its manufacturing process and all its other practices with it. To be fair, he did promise to look deeper into the issue.
Otherwise, all the six on fast are in good health and positive demeanour. Everything is in order after their daily medical check-up this morning. Our two young film makers – Josh and Sebastian, who have now fasted for almost 4 days, will end it tonight. They both have
lost, as others, over 4Kgs since the start. Bridget will now join the fast tomorrow, by hook or by crook. She could not get a medical clearance last week, but this she is determined to go ahead either way. As all of you might have already heard, there is a call for a
big Narmada-Bhopal joint action around the country on the 18th. We have also planned a series of press conferences, each focusing one of the six demands.
Tomorrow at 11am at Gandhi Peace Foundation is on the demand for clean water.
Ex-AID USA volunteers, Chandrika, Madhulika and Karuna, who have returned to India, visited the dharna for a few hours this afternoon. It was nice to see new faces in solidarity. So please keep stopping by, even for a few moments, to catch a piece of history.
To read a more detailed account, do visit
later. Will
also upload pictures soon.
“Dilli ab door nahi”
– Nishant

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