I had first met Bechanlalji in Delhi, last July. He has always been an excellent orator and a great leader. People listen to him, when he stands up to speak. Not that they don't for the others, but his aura was different - he was charismatic. He gives off the image of an eagle- a noble bird with sharp senses. He leads and has his eyes on the objective, even when things around him become cloudy and chaotic. Maybe that's why he was detained, in the first place.
As of May 21, this eagle had been in a cage - literally trapped in a jail with any other run-of-the-mill convict and metaphorically by the various tactics used by administration and the corporations to keep him detained illegally. These include, but are not limited to, framing false charges, bringing up irrelevant cases, threatening his family.
The most recent one that we found was that the police incharge from Mada, Singrauli, was not sending the case diary (an important document for the hearing) to the High Court in Jabalpur where we have filed for his bail, and has hence delayed his release. It is a journey of 12 hours by road, between Singrauli and Jabalpur. Bechanji had been detained for the past 14 days.
We were lucky enough, to interact with him on the day, while he was held in the waiting cell, and was waiting to be produced in the district court for a hearing for the false charges filed against him, Akshay, Vinit and Vijayji. Clearly, these various schemes and cheap, dirty tactics were not going to break him. Any doubt about that, would be seriously undermining his spirit. "If I'm detained for even longer, I will start my peaceful protest from the jail itself and continue the fight," said Bechanlalji. I didn't expect this experience to be emotionally overwhelming for me, but it was, especially when he asked his well wishers to not worry about him.
"Pyaar se lado," he said and asked us to keep up the fight, and keep up our efforts. Were there any other words which encapsulated Greenpeace's core values any better? With inspiring people like him and the others, the movement will always been strong. Let the fight for our rights and our forests go on.
Sanchita Mahajan is a Public Engagement officer with Greenpeace India.