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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.