Dams Built on Rivers of Blood: State Repression of Kanhar Dam Protests
It has now been several months since the struggle at Kanhar in Sonbhadra, UP intensified and the movement received a severe brunt after many of its key activists and community leaders were arrested and jailed in June. Just a couple of months before these arrests were made the struggle stood at its peak with the agitation against illegal land acquisition growing stronger day by day. Hundreds of villagers sat in front of the Kanhar dam construction site on the 14th of April, when the police brutally lathi charged on the villagers and open fired at one of the community leaders, who would have died if the bullet had not missed his heart by a few centimeters. The incident occurred on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti when the villagers asserted and demanded their rights as granted under the Indian Constitution.
Following this incident, a fact finding team was constituted by the Delhi Solidarity Group which visited the villages near the Kanhar dam between 18th – 20th of April, 2015. The fact finding team comprised of activists, academicians and journalists who visited the villages, interacted with the villagers, administration and also met with the injured admitted in the hospital. Not much has changed at Kanhar since then, except that the State repression has increased furthermore and most of the people who actively led the struggle are now behind bars.
We share with you the fact finding report that was prepared after the incident and hope that this report will help you know better about this issue which is an epitome of the kind of illegal land acquisitions that are happening in our country. We also urge you to take action from your end against these atrocities through writing letters to Chief Minister of U.P. and different ministries, meeting the activists held captive in Mirzapur jail or through writing more on this issue in social media. The government has built a mainstream narrative to hide this act of oppression through calling the activists and villagers as ‘anti-development’ and ‘naxal’ and we must break it. The struggle at Kanhar needs the support and solidarity of all the democratic organizations and individuals at present and all the remaining voices must speak for all those which are being shut each given day.