Police arrest peaceful Indian anti-dam activist for hunger striking

Demonstrations against dams in India’s Narmada Valley yesterday brought the heavy hand of police, who roughed up protestors and arrested India’s most famous environmentalist eight days into a hunger strike on charges of — get this — attempting suicide. Medha Patkar’s fast started when officials began raising the height of the biggest Narmada dam last month. After refusing government exhortations to end her hunger strike, Patkar was forcibly taken to a state hospital, where she’s said to be under heavy guard and receiving a saline drip. For 21 years, Patkar, founder of the nonviolent Save the Narmada Movement, has sought environmental justice for tens of thousands of mostly poor villagers whose homes and farmlands have been submerged or are threatened by the huge dam project. Detaining her “is a strategy by the government to isolate a leader from her followers to break up this protest,” said fellow activist Vimal Bhai.