Vaishali Patil, an activist with an organization that fights environmental destruction in the Konkan region, has been served a show cause notice on Friday morning by the Rajapur Executive Magistrate of Ratnagiri district. According to the notice, Patil, who works with the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, has been asked to give an assured guarantee of Rs 50,000 and also sign a bond of Rs 50,000 which promises that she will not break the peace in Jaitapur for at least one year.
The show cause notice has been issued to Patil on the grounds that she has been instrumental in provoking the people of Jaitapur to oppose the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) and the fact that she herself has participated in all the protests. Patil says she will challenge the order in court.
"This is how the authorities have been laying legal trap on all those opposing the JNPP project. So that we are running pillar to post trying to get out of the legal shackles," she says. This show cause notice follows up several arrests that took place early this week. The police arrested Dr Milind Desai, a resident of Mithgavane village, and 10 others in a two-month-old case on charges of rioting, attempted murder, breaking the peace in Jaitapur and several other such charges. But villagers say Desai was arrested because he opposed the project and spoke against the state government. Desai had lashed out at the government by calling it 'Shameless' during Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's visit to Jaitapur on February 26, 2011.
Patil has been a target for some months now. During the CM's visit, Narayan Rane, the State Industries Minister, was particularly angered by Patil's presence and asked Konkan Inspector-General of Police Parambir Singh why outsiders were allowed to attend a public meeting addressed by the chief minister. Patil is from Raigad district and was instrumental in the protest against the Reliance SEZ project.
Rane then ordered the IG to ask Patil to leave the meeting. She and others were also asked to remove their black badges. Patil refused and when the police tried to evict her, women from the project-affected villages who were present at the meeting rose in her support and created a scene. Fearing there could be violence, the police did not act further and Patil stayed through the meeting.
While protestors did not resort to violent behaviour, tempers were running high and there was slogan shouting. The people made it clear to the government that they were against the JNPP. At the public meeting in the presence of the CM, Prakash Waghdare from Madban village asked the audience to raise their hands if they opposed the project and nearly everyone in the audience did so. He said the government had to respect people's feelings and cancel the project.