Women in Leadership

Youth and Yamuna – a People's Struggle to Save River



a “Youth for Justice” initiative against LOOT and KILLING of Yamuna in the name of Commonwealth Games

Launched on 16th September 2007 at Jantar Mantar by “youth for justice” members and students of Delhi school of Social work, when these students organized a reverse walk for Yamuna from jantar mantar to parliament. Reverse walk because govt. did not understand the simple and straight talk by Yamuna satyagrahis and was paying no heed in spite of 47 days of Satyagraha under the leadership of Magsaysay Awardee shri Rajendra Singh ji.

Background: –

“Youth for Justice” joined Yamuna Satyagraha on 12th august 2007 and since then members of Youth for Justice are actively taking part in satyagraha and have decided to take this issue to youth of this city especially students. After more than one month of Satyagraha it was felt by some members of “youth for justice” that need is to aggressively take this movement to youth of Delhi simultaneously with Yamuna Satyagraha.

In next weekly meeting it was discussed and decided that “Youth for Justice “ should take this in such a form that is appealing to youth and we should aim to mobilize more and more young blood for the cause. We discussed the possibilities with students and union members of Delhi School of Social Work and they decided to join the movement immediately. 16th September was decided as the day to launch the movement.

“SARKAR KO SEEDHI BAAT SAMAJH NAHI AATI, VO SAB KUCHH ULTA HI KYON KARTI HAI”- said a small girl on Aaj Tak while a discussion on Yamuna was going on, we got inspiration for our first event.

Sunil Prabhakar, an inspiring satyagrahi who came from Punjab to save Yamuna suggested that we should organize a reverse march this time, it may help the Govt. to understand the cause as they are failing to understand the seriousness of issue in straight way. It was sure that a reverse walk would draw the attention of people towards the cause. He again suggested that we all should wear “ulte kapde” during the march. As a true satyagrahi he started from himself and seeing him all decided to go ahead with the plan.

On 16th September 2007 a reverse walk to parliament was organized from Jantar Mantar and “Youth for Yamuna” was launched with students from Delhi School of Social Work leading the way.

First event provided the required motivation to all of us especially participation level of students from Delhi School of Social Work was very encouraging and we decided to take this cause to Delhi University first and it was decided that a series of events would be organized in Delhi University to sensitize and mobilize Delhi university students for the cause.


18th September, last day of monsoon session of Delhi Assembly, the house was in full swing and the business was at its usual best the only exception was that some Yamuna satyagrahis were sitting in viewer’s gallery. Diwan singh, Sunil Prabhakar, Aparajita Sharma, Preety Mehra, Shailesh and Kapil Mishra were there as viewers.

Delhi’s chief minister Ms. Shiela Dixit, her cabinet members and other M.L.A.s of Govt. and opposition were present in the assembly. They were discussing their funds, tenders, and other issues.

Next one and half hour went normally and peacefully but a man sitting in viewer’s gallery was feeling the uncomfort because of this peace…when the city is dieing, when some people are playing with the fate of Delhi and are killing an age old river, when there are people fighting and killing each other over a bucket of water, when there are women who wait for hours, days and sometimes for weeks to get some water from tankers, when people are being forced to buy drinking water at Rs.12 per liter and those who cant afford this luxury of potable drinking water are drinking polluted water and killing themselves slowly…here are 70 odd people sitting comfortably , peacefully, making fun of each other, claiming that they are representatives of people of this city.

This man Sunil Prabhakar got disturbed and stood up and shouted “hum yamuna satyagraha se aaye hain, aap Yamuna pe khelgan banana rok dijiye, dilli walon ki zindagi se khilwad mat kariye”(we came from Yamuna satyagraha, stop construction of games village on Yamuna river, don’t play with lives of people of this city). It resulted in a pin drop silence in the hall…first time in history of Delhi assembly someone has dared to shout from viewer’s gallery for people’s cause. Everyone was shocked and in a state of disbelief as if wakened up from deep sleep.

Soon they realized what has happened, marshal ran to Sunil, got hold of him he kept shouting while marshals were dragging him out of the house. Before anyone could understood another satyagrahi Kapil Mishra raised his voice “hum aapse nivedan karte hain ki khelgaon ke naam par Yamuna nadi ko lootna aur bechna band karo, khel gaon kahin aur bhi banaye ja sakte hai, aakhir jis nadi se saare shahr ki zindagi hai, use kyo loot rahe ho, kyo bhech rahe ho, main nivedan karta houn ki nadi ko lootna band karo” ( we appeal to you, stop looting and killing Yamuna river in the name of games village, games village can be constructed at other places then why are you killing a river which is life line of this city, why are you selling our river, I appeal to you please stop the loot of Yamuna). Kapil has got time, as marshals were busy with Sunil. Again pin drop silence in house, before marshal could come kapil mishra stopped and walked to marshal.

History was repeated, this time a bit differently, hot debate on Yamuna stated in the house, the job was done.

Govt. initially threatened these satyagrahis that they would be sent to tihar but in next couple of hours they realized that these two have the power of truth with them, by evening both were released.

HINDUSTAN TIMES 19TH SEPT.2007They held countless demonstrations, several rallies and even an indefinite Satyagraha against the Commonwealth Games Village on the Yamuna’s riverbanks. To no avail, however, as the state government kept turning a blind eye. On Tuesday, they decided to take their message to the state assembly, where they felt top leaders would no longer be able to ignore them. They were wrong. For all their efforts, they simply landed behind bars for disrupting the House proceedings. Six environmental activists, part of the group that is protesting the “concretization of the Yamuna floodplains”, had carried their message to the assembly on the last day of the session. Sunil Prabhakar, an activist from Punjab who has parked himself at the Games Village site for the last 48 days, shouted in protest, interrupting a discussion on rainwater harvesting. “I could not stand it. On one hand they want to choke the river’s flood- plains and threaten Delhi’s groundwater potential, on the other hand they encourage rainwater harvesting. The whole thing sounded farcical,” said Prabhakar As Prabhakar continued his protest and began chanting slogans, a security officer of the assembly promptly came up to him to stop him, following which there was a scuffle between the two, according to those present nearby As Prabhakar was being dragged out, another activist, Kapil Mishra, loudly began to argue the group’s point of view. Thankfully, this time, some of the members listened. Opposition M.L.A.s blamed the government for not “heeding the river’s cause”. “We managed to convey our arguments by then,” said Diwan Singh, member of the NGO Natural Heritage First. Both Prabhakar and Mishra were detained by the assembly security for misconduct. Delhi Assembly Secretary Sidhartha Rao was not available for comment, but as per the law these detentions take place for contempt of the House.

< br />Delhi University Youth marched for Yamuna

Hundreds of youth marched together to oppose construction on riverbed

As it was decided that “Youth
for Yamuna” would organize a series of events in Delhi University, on 28th September, students of “Delhi school of social work” organized first event of the series. Today youth of Delhi University joined Yamuna Satyagraha and marched together against loot and killing of Yamuna in the name of commonwealth games. On a call from “Youth for Justice” a Delhi based youth action group,

Students of Delhi School of Social work initiated the march from their department towards Arts faculty in north campus where students from other colleges and departments of Delhi University joined March. Students wee shouting slogans like ” Yamuna main to ped lagenge, khelgaon kahin aur banenge” (only trees are allowed on river bed, let the games village be constructed somewhere else).

This march took a larger shape as many students joined the march on its way, when this march reached to law faculty after passing through Miranda House, arts faculty, S.R.C.C., Daulat ram, Ramjas college, Hindu, Stephen’s etc. there were hundreds of students mobilizing others and sensitizing fellow students about the issue of Yamuna.

Vinay Kumar and Manish jha from Delhi school of Social work have said that they are out on road because Govt. is paying no heed to peaceful Yamuna Satyagraha.

This is first time when students of Delhi University came out on road in such a big numbers for the cause of Yamuna and against the construction on Yamuna riverbed.

Students have asserted that they will keep the movement on until they get satisfactory replies to their questions, they also warned the Govt. to immediately stop any construction on riverbed or they will intensify the movement.

The student felt that our river is more important than any International Event and they were raising slogans like ” commonwealth Down -Down “.

Anubha, another Student participating in the march, said that it’s encouraging that Non –political events, the students take up involving city’s real issues. From now on, All of us will take active interest in Yamuna movement as we are Matured enough to understand what is happening in the city.

The student announced that they would take the movement to other campus and colleges of Delhi University.

29th september2007-

Jubilee hall supported Yamuna Satyagraha

Rajendra singh ji and Diwan singh ji addressed gathering of students in Jubilee Hall

On 29th September 2007, Jubilee Hall, one of the PG hostels of Delhi University has invited Shri Rajendra Singh ji to address a gathering of students. It started at 6:30 pm and around 70 students were present there to listen to waterman of India. Rajendra Singh Ji appealed them to think of environment around and to be vigilant about society around. He shared his concerns and seriousness of problem concerning Yamuna River in Delhi. It was an interesting interactive session with students. Mr. Diwan Singh has also interacted with students and explained them the need of Satyagraha and how students can play an important role in it. In the end Youth for Yamuna volunteers from Delhi School of Social Work sang song of Satyagraha and all students present there decided that they will start a signature campaign and will also join Yamuna Satyagraha on 2nd October 2007.

During dinner the discussion on yamuna and destructive developmental approaches continued.

“The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”

-Chinese philosopher


A clear message was conveyed to all those who are ignoring the peaceful non violent protest by citizens, on 2nd October 2007 a group of around 500 people including college students, farmers, school children, common people of Delhi marched to Rajghat from proposed games village site near Akshardham. This march by YAMUNA SATYAGRHA was a last warning to Delhi Govt. and from 3rd October onwards the movement has taken a new shape, more widespread, more aggressive and critical of all aspects of this insensitive and ignorant system.

On 7th October 2007 – a large mass got together at bank of yamuna in Sonia Vihar in east Delhi to support yamuna satyagraha. More than 1000 local people who were lead by municipal councilor Dr. Annapurna Mishra pledged to save yamuna.


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