Skip to main content

Eerie quiet in South Gujarat's sugarcane tribal farmers, as allegations fly high over refusal to pay huge dues

A recent Morcha rally in state capital Gandhinagar
By Our Representative
An eerie quiet prevails among tribal farmers of South Gujarat. Information emanating from activists working in three districts, Surat, Tapi and the Dangs, suggests that thousands of tribal farmers have “not been paid” their dues on purchase of sugarcane they produce in their fields. Expressing concern over their plight, the Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha, which claims to represent tribal farmers in the three districts, has said, the Ukai Pradesh Khand Udyog Sahkari Mandali, the cooperative with the rights to buy up sugarcane in order to pass on the crop to the local sugar producing units, has “not paid its dues between 2006 and 2014.”
Worse, the Morcha -- which is led by Romel Sutariya, an Ahmedabad-based activist who works among the tribal farmers of South Gujarat -- has said that the state’s authorities are refusing to respond and the police is not registering a case against those responsible for “several crores worth of corruption involving non-payment of dues.” In a statement, it said, “We have represented to the district collectors, the agriculture minister, the Gujarat governor, and the chief minister, yet the police has not been instructed to start investigation.”
The Morcha statement, however, does not give details of how much of dues have not been paid and why. It only alleges this is happening because there is a “close nexus between corrupt sugar cooperative lobby and the ruling party politicians.” The statement wondered, “We would like to know who has usurped the huge profits emanating from 93,000 sugarcane production. Who has cornered all the money from sugar and molasses produced from such huge quantity of sugarcane? And why even the case is not being registered?”
The statement says that refusal to register a police complaint is a “violation of a Supreme Court order.” In an order in November 2013, the Supreme Court had said that it was “mandatory” for the police to register first information report (FIR) if a complainant approaches it for the registration of a cognizable offence. The order by a five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that action should be taken against the police officer for his failure to register an FIR on the complaint of a cognizable offence.
Romel Sutariya with other activists
“We believe that even if the police agree to file an FIR, that would put pressure on the sugarcane cooperative body to start paying the tribal farmers’ dues. The failure to register an FIR would mean the powerful body would get enough time to destroy all evidence of non-payment of dues to the advantage of the sugar industry”, the statement pointed out, adding, “Taking cognizance of the Supreme Court order, the government must act against the police officials refusing to register an FIR in this case.”
The issue of non-payment of dues to tribal farmers first came to light in August 2014, when Morcha representatives – including Romel Sutariya, Yakubbhai Gamit, Ileshbhai Gamit, Manojbhai Gamit – met the Gujarat governor in person to apprise him of the unrest brewing in South Gujarat. “He was asked to come to the aid of the manmade disaster which has engulfed the tribal farmers”, the statement said, claiming, the governor agreed that the matter was “serious” and decided to convey facts he got from the Morcha to the state officials concerned. “Yet nothing has happened till date”, the Morcha said.

Comments

TRENDING

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

AMR: A gathering storm that threatens a century of progress in medicine

By Bobby Ramakant*  A strategic roundtable on “Charting a new path forward for global action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” was organised at the 77th World Health Assembly or WHA (WHA is the apex decision-making body of the World Health Organization – WHO, which is attended by all countries that are part of the WHO – a United Nations health agency). AMR is among the top-10 global health threats “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing and urgent crisis which is already a leading cause of untimely deaths globally. More than 2 people die of AMR every single minute,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “AMR threatens to unwind centuries of progress in human health, animal health, and other sectors.”

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Top Punjab Maoist who failed to analyse caste question, promoted economism

By Harsh Thakor*  On June 15th we commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS, a well known Communist leader in Punjab. He expired of a heart attack in Bathinda in 2009.

Saving farmers and consumers from GM crops and food: Philippines court shows the way

By Bharat Dogra*  At a time when there is increasing concern that powerful GM crop lobbyists backed by enormous resources of giant multinational companies may be able to bulldoze food safety and environmental concerns while pushing GM crops, a new hope has appeared in the form of a court decision from the Philippines.