His gift of the gab cost him dear on one occasion, however, after a major skirmish against the police at the height of the struggle. The people of Anjanwara beat up a police party that came to forcibly survey their land. But later the police came in greater force and the people had to flee and their houses were wrecked. Later still when Khajan along with others went to hold a press conference in Indore about these police excesses he was arrested. When he told the police that they could not beat him up as it was against the law to torture people in custody he was given a round thrashing. Eventually Khajan had the last laugh because the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath moved the Supreme Court against these atrocities and all those police men who had beaten him up were hauled up by the Judges who passed strictures against them.
Khajan and I had a great time till we parted ways because I felt that the fight against the dam was a losing battle and there were other more important ones to concentrate on. I along with some others felt that the dam could not be stopped and so it would be better to fight for a proper rehabilitation instead. The Narmada Bachao Andolan and Khajan demurred. Nevertheless a meeting was held in Anjanwara to try and sort out the differences. While some of the oustees were trying to raise the issue of fighting for rehabilitation Khajan got up majestically like one who is a monarch of all he surveys and declared that he would never give up the battle against the dam and it was necessary to look far into the future and not take any hasty defeatist decision. He was greeted with a resounding slogan from his supporters - koi nahi hatega, baandh nahi banega - no one will move, the dam will not be built.
The dam of course has been built and people have had to move. Khajan has had to give up his residence and move up into the hills and forests where he is cultivating his forest land now to which he has no legal title. Far from being a monarch he has been reduced to being a pauper despite having reigned as the sarpanch or elected head of the local governing body.
Khajan reminds me of Cassabianca the boy who stood on the burning deck in the famous poem by Dorothea Hemans. He has shown exemplary steadfastness to a lost cause and sacrificed everything for it and so despite my differences with him I still respect King Khajan. Some day if we humans do see sense and desist from pursuing the destructive course we are on at the moment, then we will have people like Khajan to thank for our deliverence.