Friday, July 07, 2017

Gujarat farmer leaders detained off Gandhi Ashram for holding footmarch to Gandhinagar "without permission"

Sagar Rabari (left) with Alpesh Thakor
By Our Representative
Gujarat police on Friday detained two senior farmers’ leaders, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG) and Alpesh Thakor of the OBC Ekta Manch, along with some of their colleagues soon after they began a 25-km farmers’ footmarch from Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar, the state capital. They were demanding farm loan waiver.
The footmarch, which began at Khet Bhavan near Gandhi Ashram, first went to the Gandhi Ashram, where farmers garlanded the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. However, no sooner they moved out of the Gandhi Ashram and proceeded towards Gandhinagar, they were stopped by the cops standing off the Ahmedabad district collector’s office.
The police said the reason for the detention was the organizers did not taken “requisite permission” for taking out the rally. The farmers’ leaders, however, said they were forced to begin moving towards Gandhinagar in a “peaceful rally” because they were “not granted permission, which is “normal in Gujarat today.”
Cops stop the rally
Jayesh Patel, president KSG, said, “The Gujarat police routinely deny permissions, and cracks down on protests in the state, which has become a norm. The voice of dissent in Gujarat is sought to be smothered and democratic rights of people are under stress.”
Giving reason for starting the farmers’ protest rally, Patel said, “The issues of farm distress in Gujarat are multiplying. Farmers are committing suicide, reeling under the enormous burden of nearly two decades of neglect of the farm sector by the ruling dispensation.”
He added, “Instead of addressing their issues and, at the very least, entering into a dialogue with them, the state government is using every repressive tactic at its disposal. The agitation was organized part of series of protest actions – rallies, demonstrations, footmarches – to highlight the pitiful conditions of farmers in the state at various locations in Gujarat.”
On Wednesday, police detained hundreds of farmer-activists across Gujarat after they poured thousands of litres of milk on roads, demanding a waiver of all farmer loans in the state, where essential commodities have seen a sudden spurt in prices. Led by Alpesh Thakor, the agitation was dubbed “Doodhbandi” and “Doodh Roko”. Thakore also heads Kshatriya Thakor Sena.
Thakore and 50 supporters were detained in Ahmedabad after his group blocked roads and poured hundreds of litres of milk on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway, which connects Ahmedabad with the state capital. The agitation was simultaneously held some several other towns.
Women's protest at Gandhi Ashram on July 2
Earlier, On July 2, a group of 100 middle class women led by Hetal Parikh, were denied permission to hold demonstration at two different spots, after which they went and sat on dharna at Gandhi Ashram. Parikh told Counterview, “We wanted to hold peaceful protest against Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has affected women most.”
However, Parikh said, “No sooner we sat in Gandhi Ashram with banners, the police came and dismantled the banners and asked us to go, telling us that if we did not go, we would be detained. We had no other option but to move out.”

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