Anticipating trouble, Narmada turns fortress ahead of Statue of Unity ceremonyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/anticipating-trouble-narmada-turns-fortress-ahead-of-statue-of-unity-ceremony/

Anticipating trouble, Narmada turns fortress ahead of Statue of Unity ceremony

"After inputs that tribals are planning to barge into the event with black flags, we are taking no chances," said a police officer.

Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel during Work Order Issuance Ceremony of Statue of Unity in Gandhinagar on Monday. (Source: PTI)
Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel during Work Order Issuance Ceremony of Statue of Unity in Gandhinagar on Monday. (Source: PTI)

Several villages of Narmada have turned into fortresses thanks to the overnight police patrol, ahead of Chief Minister Anandi Patel’s visit here on Friday morning.

Patel will inaugurate the work of the construction of Narendra Modi’s pet project, Statue of Unity to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and also lay the foundation stone for the construction of a hotel cum convention center, Shresth Bharat Bhavan at Kevadia colony on Friday.

The district administration, on instructions from the government has fortified neighbouring villages after an input from the state intelligence department that several tribals affected by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam project and awaiting rehabilitation are to hold a black-flag protest against Patel.

Accordingly, police units from four districts — Narmada, Vadodara, Dahod and Bharuch — along with the Local Crime Branch and Special Operations Group units have begun combing villages since Wednesday afternoon to thwart any plans of protests. Sources in the LCB said personnel in plain clothes will also be present in the audience at the event that Patel will address from a barricaded stage.

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“After inputs that tribals are planning to barge into the event with black flags, we are taking no chances. There are three layers of security personnel at the venue and this time, we have also installed a wire mesh to separate the stage and the audience for the Chief Minister although it is not part of her security protocol. But we are being cautious. Other teams have also come in to help us enforce law and order,” an officer posted at the venue said.

Villagers from Kevadia, Kothi, Navagam Limdi, Gora, Vaghodia and Wier are under the eyes of security forces as several tribals here are demanding rehabilitation after dislocation because of the project. A unit of district police also patrolled the Naswadi taluka of Chhota Udepur all through Wednesday night in search of 14 tribals from Baroli who had attempted suicide by jumping into the Narmada canal two weeks ago, protesting the ‘government apathy’ towards their pleas for fertile farm lands for rehabilitation.

However, the 14 tribals were untraceable to the police forces. Although cops deny detaining any tribals, the villages have been virtually cordoned off.

Patel is expected to arrive at the venue at 11 am and will complete the inauguration of the construction of the Statue of Unity by L&T as well as the foundation stone laying ceremony of the convention center by 12 pm. On October 31, last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his capacity had laid the foundation stone of the Statue of Unity at the same venue.

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