POLICE ON Wednesday detained Medha Patkar and hundreds of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) members at Kawant check-post in Chhota Udepur district while they were on their way to Chimalkhedi, Maharashtra as part of their ongoing three-day rally. “Our volunteers were travelling in five cars and buses. There was no sloganeering or waving of flags. Only one of our cars had a flag as we had decided to put up our banners at Chimalkhedi, where we were going to take part in a rally. However, police stopped us and insisted that they had a notice not to allow more than four people to be present together. When we asked them to show us the notice, they could not produce any paper,” said Uma Kapari, a member of National Alliance of People’s Movement.
“Police insisted that they would accompany us back to Madhya Pradesh. But we told them that we want to go to Chimalkhedi through Gujarat. They refused to let us go,” Kapari added. Assistant Superintendent of Police (Chhota Udepur) Dharmendra Sharma said that the group had not sought permission for a rally in the district. “There is a notification in place from the District Collector about restricting movement of groups of people more than four in number. For any rally in the district, a prior permission is necessary. The group did not have the permission to hold a a rally here and therefore we detained them on the border to ensure that there is no law and order problem,” he said.
Calling the detention an “attack on the constitutional rights of citizens”, the NBA said, “This is nothing but rampant suppressing of people’s voices and their constitutional rights.” The “Rally for Valley” began on June 5, on World Environment Day.