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Women of 24 villages take out rally against the Mandal-Becharaji special investment region

By Our Representative
Thousands of women of 20 villages of Patadi and Mandal blocks organized a rally on July 1 against the proposed project in 24 villages falling in the Mandal-Becharaji special investment region (SIR) region, where  Maruti-Suzuki is planning its expansion plant. Gram sabhas were organized in all 24 villages at the conclusion of the rally in which the implications of the SIR on the area were discussed in detail, especially its adverse impacts on farmers, pastoralists and peasants of the region.
A Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) statement said, the women divided themselves in four groups and visited the different villages where they apprised other women of the SIR Act and the proposed SIR in the region. The women asserted in one voice, at the end of the meetings, that the SIR project did not hold out any hope or benefit for the people of the region. They also forcefully voiced their fears of landlessness and resultant impoverishment in the area, along with loss of their culture and way of life, if the plans of the SIR fructified.
The statement quoted Chanchiben from Chhatrot village to say, “If the government grabs our land, we will have no livelihood left; we also lack the skills for decent employment in industries and we do not want to be unemployed so we will join the Azad Vikas Sangathan to fight for our land. We want to say that we will give our life but not our land”. She also reiterated the slogan of the movement “Jaan Denge Jamin Nahi”.
Jyotsnaben from Vanod village said, “At no cost are we ready to give our land because land is not just land for us, land is our mother and which is more than life for us”. Hansaben Patel from Vinchhan village said that “our land has sustained us over several generations and we are not ready to grab the means of livelihood from our children, because no mother can grab anything from her child. Land is the soul of India which is considered agriculture-based country”.
Jashiben from Vadgam explained, “SIR will benefit the industrialist and not to the rural economy or people. To develop industries villagers will not sacrifice and that is our decision. We will go to Gandhinagar, Delhi and try to convince our related ministers to stop the “SIR” and save our land.”
Women initiated rally with slogans and visited all the streets of each caste in the villages. Discussion about the object of rally to the women of village during the rally where they organized rally and call the women from all over the village. Discussions were held in “mahila sabha” about land acquisition in SIR. listing of women leaders in villages where they held meeting.
One interesting thing is that all the women came in rally joined themselves and all the expenditure of travelling was borne by them. All the women came with their water and food in their tiffins so no expenses were incurred for food. After finishing the rally in all the 24 villages, women met in Detroj and planned next programme and strategies to spread awareness in the community and the region. Women declared the JAAG also announced its programme of women's action, which was as follows:
* Selection of women leaders during first week of July.
* Cadre building of women wing during first week of July.
* Planning meeting which will be on July 7.
* Mahila Maha sammelan at end of July.
* Rally to Gandhinagar on August 9.
* Rally to Delhi on August 15.

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