Van Satyagrahi Granted Bail

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Feature story - June 5, 2014
After spending almost three weeks in jail, Van Satyagrahi and member of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, Bechan Lal Shah is finally out on bail. 200 people joined him as he walked out of jail, each one greeting him either with a warm hug or tears of joy.

05 June 2014

Photo Credit: Vinit


This, to us and by us, I mean, the people who stand for Mahan forests and those who directly depend on these forests, is a sign of victory of the truth. The truth that our collective voice will not be stifled. The truth that the Mahan forests will not face the axe.

It all started on May 8, when Bechan Lal Shah was arrested along with three other Van Satyagrahis, for trying to protect the Mahan forests from coal mining.

Though the other three forest activists were released after 40 hours, Shah was denied bail. Angered by these arrests, the villagers of Mahan, along with other activists even organized a peaceful protest outside the District Collector's office last week.

Explains Virendra Singh of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, "It took three weeks, a dharna and a high court order to get bail for a man, who merely dared to speak up for saving Mahan forests. We salute Bechan Lal ji. His courage and spirit in the face of a crisis is very inspiring."

Adds Priya Pillai, the petitioner and a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, "We have filed a writ petition in Jabalpur High Court demanding that the Superintendant of Police in Singrauli should file the FIR on the forged Gram Sabha case."

Members of MSS and Greenpeace salute Bechan Lal ji's courage and are now even more determined to save the forests of Mahan. The Van Satyagraha will continue till the Stage II forest clearance to Mahan's proposed coal mine (a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco Industries) is revoked.

This strong resolve of the people of Mahan makes me wonder that if that's not real power, then what is.