Farmers' leaders arrested for alleged of violation of prohibitory orders imposed in Mandal-Bhechraji SIR

Lalji Desai
By Our Representative
In a late night development, two Jamin Adhikar Andolan -- Gujarat (JAAG) leaders, who have launched an agitation against the special investment region (SIR) to be put up on the Mandal-Bhechraji area, were arrested on August 17 allegedly for violating prohibitory orders by holding a rally on the Independence Day to say that their victory was "limited" and the agitation would continue. The agitation made it clear that the farmers' protest against Maruti-Suzuki project would continue, as all of the JAAG demands were not met.
JAAG statement, issued in the wee hours, said, "Following the flag-hoisting that was held in village Dalod village on Independence Day, after the permission for the same at village Hansalpur was cancelled at 12.30 a.m. on August 15, the police registered FIR against 10 persons who addressed the mass gathering there, including Lalji Desai, Sagar Rabari, Kanubhai Kalsariya and others."
"The offense that they were being charged with is violation of prohibitory orders", JAAG statement said, adding, "The assembly that took place on August 15, 2013 was on private land and for the purpose of flag hoisting. This was not an act of criminality in any way, and yet the state decided to impose prohibitory orders on a peaceful assembly. There could not be a more telling commentary on the state of affairs in Gujarat today.
Both Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari were "arrested from their homes in Ahmedabad, when they had already made it known that they were going to Mandal to surrender to the police there", JAAG statement, by Shailesh Raval, said, alleging, "This appears to be a deliberate and calculated move on the part of the state administration to detain them on a Saturday and to keep them in custody over the weekend", and calling it "yet another telling commentary on the way the state government deals with people’s voices that appear to go against its own interests."
Meanwhile, it is learnt that a large number of people gathered in the villages as a spontaneous show of solidarity with their leaders in the midnight. On August 15, gathered at Dalod village, following the flag hoising, about 5,000 farmers who had gathered on the occasion, shouted slogans against Maruti-Suzuki. The agitation was held just a day after the Gujarat government's climb-down by excluding 36 of the total 44 villages from Mandal-Becharaji special investment region (SIR).
Addressing the gathering, politician-turned-activist Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria said that farmers of the remaining eight villages also don't want the special investment region (SIR) to come up. "Farmers also want Maruti's plant to be shifted from here. In reality, out of eight villages which are still in SIR, five are openly opposing it," he added.

Lalji Desai,one of the leaders of the agitation,said, "The government claims to have given gauchar and private land to Maruti by showing it as revenue wasteland. But farmers were tilling the land until the government handed it over to the company." After hoisting the national flag in Dalod, the protesters also burnt a replica of Maruti car as a mark of protest. This was the biggest protest against Maruti ever since the company zeroed in on Becharaji-Hansalpur to set up its plant.