June 7, 2012
Medha Patkar, 1992 Goldman Prize recipient from India, was recently arrested for protesting against the forced eviction of the indigenous Koliwada fisher people from their traditional land in Mumbai. Koli fisherfolk have inhabited the seven islands that form Mumbai as far back as the 2nd century BC.
Today, police forces and construction crews are demolishing Koli homes to make way for a lucrative development project. The project is ripe with corruption and is currently being challenged in court.
Patkar and several members of her organization, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) were arrested after leading a large group of residents to stand in front of bulldozers and block the demolition site.
The Goldman Prize was awarded to Patkar in 1992 for her heroic fight against the Narmada Valley Development Project, one of the largest river development projects the world had ever seen. She educated and organized the people, lead rallies and marches and participated in numerous hunger strikes – one of which lasted 21 days. Patkar founded NAPM in the early 1990’s to establish a network of activists across the country.
After over 30 years of activism, Patkar has been arrested, beaten, harassed and threatened countless times, yet she has never been swayed from her mission to empower the people and protect the environment.