Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Withdraw SIR status to Bhechraji-Mandal, clear Maruti-Suzuki of the area, else face agitation: JAAG to Modi

By Our Representative
In a strong statement, Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari of the Jameen Adhikar Aandolan – Gujarat (JAAG) have reiterated that they would expect Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the status of the special investment region (SIR) granted to the Bhechraji-Mandal area. They have simultaneously demanded that the Maruti-Suzuki company “should removed from the area” and “the Narmada canal areas that have been de-commanded be brought back into the command area”.
Pointing out that they will not accept anything short of this, the statement reads, “Till such time we will not rest nor let the government rest in peace”. The statement comes ahead of a possible crucial announcement from Modi on SIR, which he had promised during JAAG leaders’ meeting with him a month ago. Suspecting that Modi seems to be employing “the time-tested method of tiring out the people physically, mentally and financially”, the statement warns, in case he refuses to withdraw the SIR and goes back on his word, fresh struggle would be launched.
Announcing a programme of action, the statement says, the people of 101 villages (44 of the SIR and other neighbouring villages) will meet on August 15, 2013 at 8.30 am at village Naviyani road, near Hansalpur village for flag hoisting. And in case the “CM does not make a declaration withdrawing the SIR in his Independence Day speech, then we will announce a surprise programme against the Maruti Suzuki company”.
And, in due course, the following programme will be held:
· A bike rally of youths from village Dalod to Ahmedabad to give a memorandum to the Ahmedabad district collector,
· A bike rally from Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad to Rajghat New Delhi to garner support for the agitation;
· A press conference in New Delhi at the end of the bike rally suggesting the callousness with which the Gujarat government is treating the farmers and their concerns; and
· A mass gathering in Delhi, and a meeting with the President to ask for his intervention.
Pointing out that there is reason for the JAAG to suspect the intention of the CM, the statement says, the suspicion is based on following facts:
· On July 24 some pro-SIR people organised a meeting in village Sitapur;
· The meeting was a fiasco, and yet the government holds the view that the people of the area want the SIR;
· These elements also tried to divide the agitation on caste lines which failed;
· On August 2, Chaitanya Shambhu Maharaj and his associates announced their plan to go to all the villages to make the people aware of the advantages of the SIR;
· On August 4, the first day of their proposed programme, they held the meeting in village Zanzarva, where the people flatly rejected their support to SIR.
“All of this proves that the government has been taken aback by the intensity and spread of the agitation and wanted to buy time in order to break the agitation, in which mal-intention they failed miserably”, the statement says, adding, “Nearly 50,884 ha. of land of 44 villages has been earmarked for the Mandal-Bechraji SIR. Additionally, land has been given to the Maruti Suzuki Co. in village Hansalpur. As a ploy to hasten the process of farmers selling off their lands the Narmada canal command area (which was to supply water to the farms here) was de-commanded.”
All this led the “farmers in this area organised themselves and under the joint aegis of the Azad Vikas Sangathan and JAAG launched a campaign against the SIR. “ As a result, JAAG “achieved” important successes, including formation of organisation and launching of struggle against the SIR; first public meeting on May 6, in village Naviyani and was addressed by, among others, noted Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya, former finance minister of Gujarat Sanat Mehta and Kanubhai Kalsariya; public meeting in village Vasna on May 30, attended by 15,000 people apart from civil society leaders from Gujarat; a motorcycle rally on May 28.
Then, there was a massive tractor rally from the SIR to Gandhinagar on June 28 and a memorandum was given to the revenue minister; and a meeting was held with Modi on July 11, 2013, where the CM gave an assurance that he would make a major announcement on Independence Day. Thereafter, on July 30, four ministers whom he had appointed to look into the matter called JAAG leaders for meeting and told them that an agriculture zone would be declared in the area, but that “the SIR would not be withdrawn at any cost.”

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