A few days ago I had written about the dharna and rally to save a river. Here is the second phase of the struggle. – Sister Joel

We began a Satyagraha (insistence on truth) and an indefinite fast to draw the attention of the officials toward the river that has been under attack by sand mining illegal businesses.

People take an oath to save the river

Sand has been very expensive and scarce especially in Bihar where the government has banned sand mining. And so the river Niranjana in Chatra adjacent to Bihar is under attack. It is noteworthy what the public said about the river, “She is like the helpless Panchali (Draupati) of the epic Mahabharata whom the Rajas/princes tried to disrobe in public.”

According to the people, a river without sand is naked and lifeless, “We cannot bear to see her nakedness.”

Such were the sentiments of the people who gathered for the Satyagraha under the open sky save for a tent, not minding the severe cold and chilly wind.

The result was satisfactory: 360 trucks and numerous tractors have been confiscated by the police while Satyagraha was on; over 200 illegal miners face legal action. The police are patrolling the river, (10 sites) the main road is free of a jam by trucks. The local administration claims that this was the biggest raid in Jharkhand with regard to mining.

The district administration became very active thanks to the strict order from the State Chief Secretary, Ranchi. It has been a noticeable fact that faced by people’s resistance the government has to act with a political will and the mafia will succumb. At the same time, there is the question how long can the people hold on?? But for the present such questions don’t arise; people taste the beginning of a victory, hopefully, it will give fuel for continued action

Jyoti Bahen (Joel) Urumpil, SCN

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Ps 98

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