Bhopal: Activist Medha Patkar, who has received a notice from the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai fir allegedly not disclosing criminal cases pending against her while obtaining the travel document, on Thursday described it as an attempt to target activists.
The 64-year-old activist, who was in Bhopal for the past five days agitating over the Sardar Sarovar Dam issue, said, "This is a deliberate attempt to target activists and challenge their morality."
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader, a veteran of many agitations across the country, said there had been a concerted effort in the country against those who lead mass movements and attempts are made to jail them anyhow. She claimed some government officials and corporate are conspiring against her. She also alleged that it’s a conspiracy to prevent her from undertaking international trips.
The RPO notice was issued to Patkar on October 18, asking her why her passport should not be impounded for not disclosing criminal cases pending against her while seeking the document, an official said.
She was reissued passport in March 30, 2017. Patkar was asked to give explanation within 10 days, but did not respond to the notice, he said.
According to the notice, Patkar has nine cases pending against her in Madhya Pradesh — five in Khandwa, three in Barwani and one at Alirajpur district. These cases relate to rioting and obstructing government servants from performing their official duty.
The passport office had sought details about these cases from the director general of Madhya Pradesh Police, the official said.
Reacting to the notice, Patkar said, "Cases mentioned in the notice seem to be those filed during our absolutely non-violent peaceful agitations for justice for the development projects (dams)-affected families and for no other offence."
"All the cases against me and others were filed years ago and were disposed off by the district courts of Barwani and Alirajpur," she said, adding, "We received order of acquittal before the date of applying for passport in March 2017.
Only a case at Barwani was not filed before the day of passport application and it was registered in August 2017 for ‘mook’ (silent) rally under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) which is pending till date, she said.
"As this case did not exist on the day of application, there was no question of my informing it as pending," Patkar maintained.
"As far as Khandwa cases are concerned, I don't remember having been summoned in any of them nor I was made an accused nor I was ever summoned or arrested," she said.
Speaking about not meeting the RPO office deadline for submitting explanation, she said a response was filed on November 2. "I was trying to seek copies of documents and orders, which I could not do within last six days after receiving the letter in my hand due to my touring schedule and due to Diwali holidays," said Patkar.
(With inputs from PTI)