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Activists and tribals placed under house arrest

Police detain them while Nirendra Modi attends local ceremony reporter, Ahmedabad

October 31, 2013

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Hundreds of tribal people and four environment activists have been placed under house arrest today, to prevent them from protesting against the erection of what will be the world’s tallest statue, in Gujarat, western India.

The lockdown was imposed in seven villages from early this morning, while Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) laid the statue’s foundation stone in the Navagam district. It is expected that the detention will be lifted tomorrow.  

The villagers, mostly tribals, were also prevented from flying black flags over their houses as a further protest.

“The tribals are protesting to protect their land, forests, livelihoods and rivers. But Narendra Modi’s government has denied them their fundamental rights in their own villages,'' said Rohit Prajapati, one of the detained environmentalists.

Prajapati added that the police treated them like criminals and seized several activists’ mobile phones so they could not communicate with colleagues.

“Activists and villagers were detained illegally to create an atmosphere of terror inside villages,'' he said.

The planned statue will commemorate Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a freedom fighter and political leader from Gujarat, who served as India’s first Home Minister. Planned to be built alongside the Narmada Dam in Navagam, the 182 meter statue will be double the size of the Statue of Liberty. 

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