Thursday, January 08, 2015

Farmers' suicide: Pressure mounts on leaders ahead of rally to mark Vibrant Gujarat summit inaugural

Sagar Rabari
By Our Representative
Even as the Sanyukt Khedut Sangharsh Samiti – the joint action committee of farmers' non-political bodies – has declared it will go ahead with its plan to “oppose the wasteful expenditure behind the Vibrant Gujarat 2015 extravaganza” on January 11-13, apprehensions have run strong that the Gujarat government will do all-out to crush their planned meeting of farmer activists to converge at Adalaj on January 11 for a protest. The committee has said, the “farmers' rights rally”, which began on January 1, will show its might, come what may, reaching Adalaj, in the outskirts of Gandhinagar, Gujarat capital.
Pointing out how the committee's leaders are being hounded, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Samaj-Gujarat said, intelligence and the police have been “constantly tailing” committee leaders. He added, “It is quite obvious from this behaviour that the government is running scared of the farmers. The government is now actively trying to suppress the voice of the farmers. We apprehend that the government may try to take the leaders into preventive detention and may employ all unconstitutional and undemocratic means at its disposal to stop the farmers from getting to Gandhinagar.”
“Requesting” the state government to “put faith in democracy to let the farmers exercise their democratic right to voice their demands”, and “refrain from creating an environment of fear, and rather listen to the farmers’ agony and distress”, Rabari said, “In the same breath, let us also tell the government not to mistake our democratic and law-abiding behaviour as our weakness; we are fully capable to announce and carry out more aggressive programmes.”
“The government may consider this as one rally, for us this is the beginning of our struggle”, Rabari said in a statement, adding, “We are resolved to fight to the end. Our struggle will not end with the completion of the Vibrant summit. We will fight, but we will secure our rights.” Already, the campaign, he claimed, has “received widespread support of the farmers across the districts” -- especially in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Junagadh, Rajkot and Surendranagar.
Suicide by four farmers over the last fortnight over poor price for cotton (click HERE to read), with the Gujarat government refusing to increase the minimum support price, is said to be the main reason behind the new round of protests. Meanwhile, in an open letter, several voluntary organisations and activists has told the CEOs attending the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit (VGGIS) 2015 that the Gujarat government's “blind race towards mindless industrialization, because of crony capitalism, has endangered traditional livelihoods and rendered farmers unemployed and unemployable.”
The letter said, “The skilled and semi-skilled people in traditional occupations, considered as unskilled or semi-skilled by the present model of development, are not absorbed in new industries envisaged by the Gujarat government and is blatantly taking the poor for a ride and misleading the people about the fraudulent Gujarat model of development”.
“Having lost their water, land and coasts (for fishing) these poor people are left bereft of any sustainable rehabilitative support save the one-time compensation for land lost (very meagre and often belated). Before signing MoUs with the Gujarat government, ensure that you meet and interact seriously with the impacted people/communities”, the letter insisted.
It added, “Hundreds of NGOs representing several million members of civil society are already opposing extremely strongly the MOUs/Agreements signed which not only affect their livelihoods but also their sense of dignity which we are sure you would not wish to happen. Hundreds of people’s movements are ongoing and more may be launched across the country to oppose the fake promises made by Narendra Modi and his government.”
The resources (land, water, coasts) that are proposed to be sacrificed by the Government are part of a well thought out crony capitalist ideology which the people of India oppose tooth and nail. All these realities are being hidden from you by the Government of Gujarat and the Government of India.
The letter further said, “At the earlier Vibrant Gujarat events too several MoUs were signed but very few have been executed due to resistance from the dispossessed and poor people of Gujarat who are backed solidly by many NGOs/people’s movements. Should you wish, we would be happy to send to you some examples of the unfair and unjust economic policies that Modi has attempted to execute in the state as the Chief Minister but failed to do so because of massive resistance of the people.”
Of tens of activists who signed the letter included veteran former Congress leader Sanat Mehta, president, Khedut Samaj-Gujarat; Sagar Rabari, Secretary, Khedut Samaj-Gujarat; Persis Ginwalla, Jameen Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG); Indukumar Jani, Editor, Naya Marg, Ahmedabad; and Rohit Prajapati, senior activist, Vadodara, and others.

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