Thursday, July 18, 2013

Declaring there are no divisions, JAAG decides to agitate against pro-SIR lobby in Mandal-Becharaji region

By Our Representative
The Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) and the Azad Vikas Sangathan, the two main organisations campaigning against the Mandal-Bhecharaji special investment region (SIR) in North Gujarat, have sharply criticised certain unnamed "individual in the business of land dealings" for "raising a pro-SIR voice." A joint statement issued by them said, they have "gone to Gandhinagar with their demand", adding, "We need to remain alert and continue our efforts to strengthen the local organisation, the Azad Vikas Sangathan, and the movement against the SIR."
The statement expressed the apprehension that "these vested interests may procure the land records of individual farmers directly and forge signatures on resolutions to government." Hence, it was decided to write to to the mamlatdar that without the farmer making a request in person, no one else should be given land title (7/12) records. "Despite this if records are given, then the administration will be responsible and the farmers will be forced to take legal action against the concerned officer", the statement said.
Drafted after a meeting of JAAG and Azad Vikas Sangathan at village Vanpedi, the statement recalled, the Gujarat chief minister "has promised the leaders of a positive response by August 15", but indicated, the movement against the SIR would continue. "Women would demonstrate in large numbers in village Hansalpur on July 24, 2013 against those in favour of the SIR", the statement said, adding, later, on August 15, a massive public programme would be held, and "whether that will be a celebration of victory or another challenge thrown to the government will depend on the response of the government."
With the decision to hold a mass rally on the Independence Day, the earlier decision to hold a consultatino at Gujarat Vidyapeeth on July 20 on whether to continue with anti-SIR stir or wait for Modi's statement and then decide what to do has been cancelled.  The statement stressed, "If the government cancels the SIR and brings the de-commanded areas of Narmada under the command areas then the farmers will have an occasion to rejoice on the Independence Day. If the government does not keep its word then the farmers will use this occasion to plan and announce their future programmes."

No division in JAAG: Lalji Desai
Meanwhile, in response to www.counterview.net news item, “Pressure from Gujarat powerdom forces JAAG to hold consultations on whether to continue anti-SIR stir,” (July 18, 2013), senior JAAG leader Lalji Desai has clarified that there is no division in the ranks of the JAAG and "there appears to be some misunderstanding and consequent misreporting."
The clarification said, "There was no pressure from the state government for the talks", adding, "When the agitation is against the government and we want to discuss our demands, there can be no question of pressure. The meeting is in fact was in answer to one of the most primary demands of the movement, viz. to talk with the government and take its views into consideration. It is in fact a victory for the people’s movement that its successful mobilisations have made the government see the farmers’ anger and forced them to respond to it."
Secondly, the report state that “... (T)wo senior leader of Jameen Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG), which is behind the campaign against the Mandal-Bhechraji special investment region (SIR), Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari, have finally admitted that the movement they were leading today stands divided in the face of the powerful offensive launched by the Gandhinagar rulers.”
However, the clarification insisted, "The fact is that we have done no such thing. The update that we sent out did not say so, and you or any other reporter has not spoken to us where we could have made such a statement. For the record, we admit to no such thing."
Thirdly,  the www.counterview.net report concludes that the movement stands divided, which is "not correct". The clarification contended, "In fact the movement is just as strong and perhaps more so. The fact that the state government chose to invite a few leaders does not mean that the movement has been divided or fragmented."
It added, "In fact, the same update has emphasised, and you have also noted, that despite a few individuals being invited the entire leadership of the local organisation went to meet the CM having resolved that the issue was a collective one. In case the chief minister refused to meet all of them, no one would meet the CM -- was their stand. This is hardly division or fragmentation."
Finally, the clarification agreed, "It is true, and our update mentions this, that a group of persons (no more than 20 or so) went to Gandhinagar to demand SIR." However, it added, "However, none of these people are part of JAAG. So the question of division in the JAAG and the protest movement does not arise at all."

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