Illegal Arrests and harassment of women and Children in Kevadia Village, Narmada District of Gujarat

Brutal use of force to crush people’s democratic opposition to forcible eviction for the controversial Statute of Unity project

29th March, Vadodara/New Delhi: Shocking incidents of intimidation, harassment and property damage took place yesterday, 28th March 2015 at the Village Kevadia of Narmada District, Gujarat at the behest of the police, officers of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited and the State Authority.  Five women, one man and three minors were illegally arrested by the police between the hours of 11.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. After being transported to the Tilakwada Thana, around 29 km away, they were held without proper food and other facilities which are spelled out by the D. K. Basu Guidelines of Supreme Court which have been now incorporated into the law. The family members were not informed about the arrest nor the place to which they were taken. The police thereafter forcibly entered into the farm land of the villagers with a JCB Machine, damaging a pipeline used by villagers for irrigation.

Although the police provided no reason for this brute exercise of force, despite repeated requests by the women to know based on whose complaint they were being arrested, under which section of the law the police had entered their property, and in connection to which crime, it was clear to the local villagers that the raison d’être was to crush the people’s democratic opposition to their forcible eviction for the purpose of streamlining the proposed “Shreshtha Bharat Bhavan”, a part of the Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd.’s Statue of Unity Tourism Project.

The aggrieved, belong to the around 70 people of six tribal families who have been living for generations in Village Kevadia which falls within an area protected by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India. In 1963 land belonging to these six families with other such families had been acquired for the canal project for the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) – however the actual location of the Dam was thereafter moved a few kilometres upstream to village Vadgam from its original location Navagam. Now it appears that the Government of Gujarat has casually changed the purpose of acquisition from a canal to the establishment of the three-star hotel known as “Shreshtha Bharat Bhavan”, without obtaining the mandatory environmental clearances or following due process of law.

It is known through conversations with the aggrieved and confirmed through official information obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005 that no compensation has been paid for the acquisition of land in 1963. Since 1963 the local people have remained in possession of the land.  Recently, the government has verbally offered the people land for land, which in itself suggests that the concerned authority has not provided the aggrieved people with fair and just compensation.

The government with alliance of a private contractor has also recently erected fencing around the homes and land of these six families. A twenty four hour police force guards the land. Villagers are routinely terrorised, harassed and prevented from operating their small shops which are their source of income. Yesterday, March 28th 2015 the local people were protesting the construction of this illegal ‘Open Air Prison’ and also the constant threats and provocations they are receiving from the police and concerned officers. Further, the people unequivocally maintained the position that they should be provided land for land, including plots for housing, as per the latest government policy prior to any work commences for the proposed tourism project.

Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns of the people, police officers who came from Tilakavada, Kevadia and Rajpipla colluded with the private contractors to intimidate and attempt to illegally evict the people from their ancestral land. The fact that L & T contractors were present during the repression also points to this fact.

The atmosphere of terror created by the State Authority, SSNNL, the police force and the events of 28th March 2015 are a clear cut violation of the human rights of the tribal peoples which are enshrined in the Constitution of India. We demand:

  • Order immediate removal of the newly built fencing and withdrawal of police forces from the peoples land and homes.


  • An apology should be issued to the arrested peoples of the six families and legal action should be taken against the Government officials who ordered for the fencing, those who deployed the police force and those who ordered for the arrest of the villagers. 


  • Compensation should be paid to those who incurred property damage and loss due to the illegal actions of the police.


  • A special team should be appointed and sent to the area to investigate and prepare a report on the arrest and continued harassment of tribals.  Human rights activists should be included in the investigation team.


Trupti Shah, Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant

Letter to NHRC (Case of arrest in Kevadiya)

Seven Adivasi Families including Women Arrested Illegally

Brutal Use of State Power: Standing Crop Crushed

Gujarat govt. with centre’s support committing atrocities on adivasis

At least seven adivasi families are under custody arrested & kept in their own houses by the Gujarat Police & administration, since yesterday. In village Kevadia just 7kms away from the Sardar Sarovar Dam site & already affected by the projects since 1960’s women who were asserting that their agricultural land & houses shouldn’t be grabbed for Bharat Bhavan, without they getting the package of alternative land to the landholder and an amount of Rs.5 lakhs for the each adult major son in the family; were arrested by the police & taken to Tilakwada p.o. about 50kms away. While the women were released after a pressure was created by the crowd gathered at the p.o. & media covering the incidence, the JCB machines were brought to carry on their work, destroying even the standing crops of ‘Tuvar’. Such an unjust, destructive action continued overnight, smashing not just the crop & the land, but hearts of the adivasis who have been fighting for their survival since 1970’s and loss their livelihoods since 1961 itself.

The six villages with Kevadia being one of those, lost their land acquired for the Sardar Sarovar & project colony, at  a meager rate of compensation in 1961 and all the adivasis Bhil (Tadis) families became either landless or left with small chunks of land. The land they lost was used for nine kinds of govt. guest houses, staff quarters, and colony, bazaar as well as tourism centers while some of it has been used for storage of material of the contractors, illegally diverting the purpose of acquisition itself.

When about 300 families, the original landholder’s struggle against the injustice imposed over years, we found that the number of families had gone up to 900 already. Only a few of them could get work at the dam site & other at the project office, mostly as temporary wage earners.       Only the 300 were offered, after struggle a package of Rs. 36,000 in lieu of land. Many of them obviously rejected the same as meager amount, absolutely inadequate for purchasing alternative source of livelihood.

It was in 2013 that the Gujarat govt. taking cognizance of the antagonism to any further acquisition of land amongst the adivasis is the Kevadia region brought out a govt. resolution promising land for land and the above package applicable to the Bharat Bhavan project in Kevadia. However, these families who had already lost more than 100 acres in the 1960’s and 20 acres more for the Bharat Bhavan, were taken to show the land at three to four sites which they could not accept as the same was in dispersed in small pieces. in such a situation when the families where awaiting further offer from the govt. a sudden oppressive move by the administration with police force exposes the lack of political will to rehabilitate the adivasis and intension to grab their land. This model, if not questioned would certainly be applied by the BJP govt. in Gujarat to other private corporate projects planned to be brought into the same area.

It is not shocking but condemnable that the Gujarat govt. with obvious support from the centre is behaving in an utmost unjust manner committing atrocities on adivasis now.

The fight is on and it will continue to, till justice is attained.

We appeal to all sensitive supporters to write to the District Collectors, District Narmada, the Chief Minister of Gujarat as well as the Prime Minister himself.

Medha Patkar                         Devram Kanera                    Jikubhai Tadvi                                                                                                              Contact number: +91 91 79148973                                                                                                   

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