Archive for August 16th, 2011

August 16th

Amitav Ghosh | August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (1)

 

There are days that exhaust one’s capacity for outrage: this is one such. The arrest of Anna Hazare to begin with: one does not need to be a follower of Anna Hazare in order to be amazed and appalled by the sheer excess of the measures taken by the government. Astonishing also was the hubris of the Home Minister’s statement: ‘Laws cannot be made by social activists in a maidan.’

Well, actually the Republic of India owes its very existence to social activists in maidans.

A verse in the Bible begins: ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.’

I was in college, in Delhi, when the Jayaprakash Narayan movement swept the country. Today the government has sown another such movement: one can only hope that it will not lead to a similar outcome.

The verse I quoted above continues: ‘it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.’

I thought of those words – ‘the strangers shall swallow it up’ – when I read about the assassination of Shehla Masood, an environmental activist, who was on her way to join the Anna Hazare protests in Bhopal. Here are some excerpts of a letter I was sent:

‘Shehla Masood, a Madhya Pradesh based civil rights and environmental rights activist was was shot dead  by an unidentified person in front of her residence in Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal around 11 AM on 16th August, 2011.

‘She was active to save the watershed of the Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri River, one of the cleanest in the country from Rio Tinto’s mining activity along with other activists.

‘The mining block is inside a forest which is the northernmost tip of the best corridor of teak forests south of the Gangetic plain. It is an established law that mining is non-forestry activity. There is an immediate need for a probe to determine who allowed the mining to take place in such an ecologically fragile area.

‘The Bunder mine project, near the city of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, about 500 kilometres south-east of Delhi, is likely to be one of the largest diamond reserves in the world. It is estimated that there is a ”inferred resource” of 27.4 million carats, a diamonds resource seven times richer than the Panna mine, country’s only working diamond mine.

‘We have learnt from senior journalists that two Collectors have been transferred to facilitate the ongoing illegal mining and the fact that the new Collector has allowed mining which came to light when a PIL [Public Interest Litigation] was filed stating that Rio Tinto has been carrying on exploitation of mineral resources in Chattarpur district violating the prescribed  provisions.’

At the end of the letter there was this picture of Shehla Masood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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