Tuesday, 3 July, 2007

Open Letter for Release to the Press

We are deeply troubled at the repression unleashed by the MeghalayaGovernment against activists of a movement against the proposed UraniumMining by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in theDomisiat/Wahkaji area of West Khasi Hills district of MeghalayaThis popular non-violent movement has from the mid nineties opposed thesecretive anti-people behaviour of the Indian Nuclear establishment, andwith considerable courage and popular participation managed to stop themining of Uranium from the area. Instead of respecting the people'sopinions, UCIL, supported by the State Government has tried to split theindigenous community's solidarity through bribes, and attempted tosilence any dissent through use of the draconian Meghalaya PreventiveDetention Act (MPDA).On 12th June, 2007 after announcing a Public Hearing on the issue,without sharing any independent environmental assessment of UraniumMining, a hearing which the movement opposed as flawed, the governmentmade all attempts to get a farcical assent to its plans through riggingthe public hearing by creating a situation of police terror in the area.Although the movement , led by the Khasi Students Union and LangrinYouth Welfare Association had opposed the hearing in principle, itdecided to break through the security blanket, and attend the hearing.Even this rigged Public Hearing had a surprise for the government: morethan three-fourth of the villagers opposed the project . Rather thanaccept the people's verdict, the government has since unleashed avindictive campaign against the activists.Following the hearing, 16 activists have been arrested so far (many ofthem have reported torture), and 7 of them have been booked under theMeghalaya Preventive Detection Act (MPDA), which allows the governmentto hold them under custody for six months without bail or judicialtrial. Most of the other activists have been forced to go underground.We demand that these activist be released, and Governments heed to thevoices of people who do not want Uranium Mining in the state of Meghalaya, or indeed anywhere else.

Tarun Bhartiya
Sanjay Kak
Himanshu Thakkar __._,_.__

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