In a move that activists called 'repressive', police arrested 245 persons protesting peacefully against the rise in the waters of the Indira Sagar dam in Harda district on Wednesday.

The protesters were released later in the evening.

For over the last two weeks, dam affected people of the Omkareshwar project (Khandwa) and of the Indira Sagar project (Harda) had been offering jal satyagraha by standing in neck deep water, demanding proper rehabilitation, compensation and a reduction in the level of dam waters.

On Monday, the Omkeshwar oustees had ended their jal satyagraha 'victorious' after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government accepted all their demands.

However, their displaced brethren in Harda continued standing in the waters of the Indira Sagar dam, after the government rejected their demands of rehabilitation and a reduction of dam waters from 262 to 260 meters.

At the time of filing the report, however, the protesters had been released and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) had decided to call off the protest and file a contempt petition in the Madhya Pradesh high court.

According to the orders of the MP High Court, upheld by the Supreme Court, the water level of the Indira Sagar dam has to be kept at 260 meters.

On Tuesday evening, a day after the 17-day jal satyagraha was called off in Khandwa, the Harda district administration had issued prohibitory orders in Khardana village asking the protesters to end their satyagraha.

The next morning (Wednesday), the police 'cracked down' on the peaceful protest and forcefully removed and arrested over 245 persons, including NBA activist Chittaroopa Palit, from the waters of the Indira Sagar dam.

Hours after being evicted, the protesters had entered the dam waters again and had continued the satyagraha before the NBA decided to call it off and move the courts instead.

Wednesday's police action suggests the state government did not want the Harda jal satyagraha to attract national attention the way the Khandwa satyagraha did and wanted to nip the Indira Sagar protest in the bud.