Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar on Thursday said there was a “deliberate attempt to target” social workers, News18 reported. Patkar made the comments hours after she received a notice from the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai to explain why her passport should not be impounded after she allegedly failed to disclose information about criminal cases pending against her.
“This is a deliberate attempt to target activists and challenge their morality,” she said in Bhopal, where she was leading protests for those affected due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Patkar claimed there had been coordinated efforts to jail those who lead mass movements.
A show-cause notice was issued to Patkar on October 18, and the passport office also sought details from the director general of Madhya Pradesh Police. The passport authorities have noted that nine criminal cases against Patkar are pending at present. Three of the cases are in Barwani district, one in Alirajpur district and five in Khandwa district. Most of the cases contain charges of rioting and obstructing government officials from carrying out their duty.
“Cases mentioned in the notice seem to be those filed during our absolutely non-violent peaceful agitations for justice for the development projects [dams]-affected families and for no other offence,” she said. The activist said the cases were filed years ago and were dismissed by district courts of Barwani and Alirajpur. “We received order of acquittal before the date of applying for passport in March 2017.”
She claimed only one case at Barwani was not filed before the day she applied for the passport, and was registered in August 2017. Patkar said she was charged under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), adding it was still pending.
“As this case did not exist on the day of application, there was no question of my informing it as pending,” she told News18.
Patkar she was unable to meet the office’s deadline as she was trying to obtain copies of documents and orders. A response in the matter was filed on November 2, she added.