Skip to main content

Controverial Gujarat arrest of tribal leader under PASA: Civil society bodies asked to flood protest letters

By Our Representative
The Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), a fast-growing people’s organization of South Gujarat, has asked all civil society bodies across Gujarat and India to flood letters to the Gujarat government to “remove” the charges under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act, which led to the controversial arrest senior tribal farmer leader Jayram Gamit in January-end. Gamit was taken to Rajkot, about 400 km away, soon after the arrest. The AKSM’s appeal comes close on the heels of a belated statement by dozen-odd senior Gujarat activists led by Indukumar Jani, a Gandhian, “condemning” the arrest and calling it “unconstitutional”.
A senior activist who participated in a civil society meeting two days back at Ahmedabad’s Khet Bhawan, where the civil society's belated statement was prepared, told Counterview that several NGOs, including some that vow by human rights, were “openly reluctant” to stand by Gamit and AKSM, saying they take "radical stances". “People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) office bearers were present at the meeting, where the statement was prepared. It is difficult to understand why the PUCL hasn’t taken up Gamit’s cause”, the participant wondered.
Gujarat PUCL general secretary Gautam Thaker, responding to a Counterview query, said, "We have not responded to the arrest of Gamit because we came to know about it only on February 10. Nobody informed us about it earlier." Asked whether the PUCL was considering to approach the Gujarat High Court, whose especially appointed committee alone is empowered to decide on PASA cases, he said, "I am in the midst of collecting facts and see what can be done." Gujarat PUCL president Prakash N Shah, when asked about Gamit's arrest, he said, "I've no knowledge about it, what happened?"
Pointing towards the "urgent need to unite" against such the strong-arm tactics of the state government by imposing such “draconian Acts like PASA on activists, the top activist, requesting anonymity, insisted, “The impression one got at the meeting was that several us do not want Dalit or Adivasi leadership to emerge and take up human rights issues. We fear loss of hegemony.” While Gamit is a tribal, AKSM chief Romel Sutariya, who is 24, is a Dalit, and calls himself a “radical follower of Dr BR Ambedkar".
Notably, following Gamit’s arrest in January-end, the Gujarat government came up with a stange  order dubbing entire Chhotaudepur district as “terrorist prone” in order to impose curfew in all its blocks till February 14. The arrest of Gamit and subsequent declaration of Chhotaudepur as “terrorist prone” following the AKSM’s decision that, starting on February 2, it would begin indefinite sit-in in front of the Chhotaudepur district collector’s office to protest against “illegal sand mining”, destroying adivasi farmers’ crops and alluvial soil.
“Despite repeated representations, the Gujarat government did next to nothing to stop sand mining. There is a clear nexus between the establishment and the mining mafia. This forced us to decide to begin the sit-in, which was going to totally peaceful and non-violent”, said Sutariya, adding, “Yet, we began being seen suspiciously, as if we were terrorists. Top cops in personal talks even asked me where did I have Naxalite training. This is ridiculous.”
Referring to Gamit’s arrest under PASA, and his detention in a jail in Rajkot since February 1, Sutariya said, the tribal leader's name “does not appear as on involved in illegal activities in any of the earlier police complaints. The decision to impose PASA on Gamit, calling him a mastermind in provoking an attack on foresters was an afterthought.” He added, “The sessions court found nothing against Gamit in the provocation against the foresters, and hence granted him anticipatory bail. This made the officials to impose PASA.”

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.