First of all: THANK YOU to all those who called.
Vilas Sonawane of Lokshasan Andolan, Pune, reports that police and villagers have arrived at an understanding that until the report of the Committee is submitted:
a) the status quo would be maintained. There will be no further construction or supply of material to Dow’s R&D site.
b) NO provocative action will be taken by police against villagers. NO intimidation or night visits by the police.
Your calls averted violence and led to an outcome that we can live with for the time being. The vigil is on, and the villagers are even more enthused now that they have seen their strength, and the support from overseas.
Calls to the District Administration and Police may be stopped now.
***URGENT ACTION ALERT***
February 27th 2008
Dow Sets Police on Indian Villagers
Police at a meeting at Shinde village this month
Five men from Shinde Vasuli village, near Pune, were arrested today after nearly 250 armed police from the State Reserve Police made their way to the construction site of Dow’s proposed R&D facility. Construction at the site remains suspended for more than 40 days. More than 1000 villagers, including at least 300 women, have closeted the police contingent inside the Dow site, and are demanding that the police should release the five arrested villagers.
The State Government has ordered reinforcements and a lathi charge is feared overnight tonight.
District Collector. Mr. Deshmukh: +91 9881221144
Rural SP. Mr. Nangre Patil: +91 9923088887
a) The Collector had assured that no work will begin until the report is submitted and the villagers are convinced about the nature of work. Why has he gone back on his word? Newspapers have reported this.
b) Any violence against villagers and on behalf of Dow will be viewed very negatively by the world. Release the arrested villagers, and withdraw the police force, and talk to the villagers to find out what their concerns are.
Background: Construction work at the site had been suspended after local villagers took over the approach roads and stopped all work more than a month ago, triggered by fears about the pollution impact of Dow’s facility. The villagers had also questioned Dow’s right to go about business as usual while the company’s Bhopal liabilities remain unresolved.
The blockade by the villagers was lifted after the District Collector assured them that no construction would take place until a committee set up to evaluate Dow’s proposal presented its report. The report has not yet been submitted. But Dow has managed to strong-arm the
Government into sending police reinforcements to escort construction material. The site has no construction workers as all of them left as soon as the blockade began.
With Dow breathing down the necks of the State Government, it is highly likely that the State will resort to use of force to enable Dow’s construction. The villagers have said they will not move until their men are freed.
17 villagers have been arrested by the Police in Shinde. They have been kept in Chakan Police Station. Women protestors have still gheraod the police at Shinde. Police planning brutal action against the women. Anything can happen in the coming hours. Kindly circulate this message and help as you can in this situation of crisis.
The list of 17 villagers who have been arrested.
Shantaram Panmand, Vithal Panmand, Gorakshnath Panmand, Balu Timghire, Navnath Ghanvat, Ankush Ghanvat, Fakira Tamboli, Babaji Mhatale, Subhash Panmand, Shrikant Gaikwad, Suresh Gaikwad, Kisan Karle, Mahadu Panmand, Kailash Panmand, Shivnath Panmand, Tukaram Mhatale, Narayan Mhatale
*LATEST* Five of those arrested are still being held.
Bhopal tragedy comes to haunt Dow R&D unit, villagers block road to site
Police threaten Dow Protestors in Pune
Dow Chemical’s R&D project plan hits another roadblock
Dow plans blocked by Indian villagers
Villagers voice resolve to keep out Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical issue: Activists demand Lok Adalat
Dow India’s R&D facility embroiled in controversy
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU CALL
Notes of a conversation between Boston-based Bhopal supporter Aquene and the rural superintendent of police, Mr. Nangre Patil, one hour ago:
Aquene: I am looking for Nangre Patil I am calling from Boston US regarding the arrest of 5 villagers from near Chakan
Patil: Can you speak more slowly?
Aquene: I am calling with regard to the arrest of 5 villages near Chakan with regard to the Dow plant construction.
Patil: Oh Dow. Ok there has been a committee formed with bureaucrats to deal with that matter ma’am.
Aquene: I know there has been a committee formed and as far as I understand from the newspapers there was an agreement to not do any work on the Dow site until the report was submitted. You must release the arrested villagers immediately. Dow is harboring a fugitive from
Justice in Indian Criminal court, how can you permit them to build?
Patil: Ma’am the committee has been formed to look at this issue and address it. They will make a report and until the report comes out Dow should continue construction.
Aquene: That is not the way it works, why should Dow continue the construction while waiting for this report? What good will that do allowing construction to continue when the project has not been evaluated? The project will already be done before the issue is clarified. When will the report come out?
Patil: Within a fortnight ma’am.
Aquene: Well good, but until that time the construction should not be permitted on the Dow site. You should leave the villagers alone and release those who have been arrested.
Patil: Not that much construction can happen in such a short time ma’am. They are not at that stage of construction.
Aquene: If they are not at that stage of construction why did you send 3 trucks with Special Forces to the site?
Patil: I am just doing my job ma’am
Aquene: What is this doing your job and arresting innocent villagers for a company that won’t even respect Indian Law?
Patil: Good Night Ma’am
Aquene: We are watching you from around India and from around the world. We are watching what you do there. Those concerned about Human Rights are watching.
Patil: Good Night Ma’am
Aquene: Please release those villagers
Do call again and again every few hours until the villagers have been freed.