Skip to main content

Second "clampdown": Gujarat police stop Swaraj Abhiyan volunteers on way to villages around Tata Nano site

Swaraj Abhiyan volunteers stopped by cops from distributing leaflet
By Our Representative
In a second attempt to “strangle” the fledgling Swaraj Abhiyan in less than a month, on June 15 the Gujarat police allegedly hounded a team of dozen-odd volunteers who were on their way to the villages surrounding the high-profile Tata Nano plant in Ahmedabad district, off Sanand town. The volunteers had planned to distribute a “Jai Kisan” leaflet in six odd villages, seeking farmers’ support to oppose the controversial amendments to the land acquisition Act (LAA).
Part of the all-India campaign to organize its first all-India rally in Delhi on August 10 focused on farmers’ issues, earlier, on May 25, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prof Anand Kumar were disallowed from holding a supporters’ meet in Ahmedabad’s Mehdi Nawaj Jung Hall, though they had a formal permission. The cops locked the gates of the hall, which is under the Gujarat governor, forcing the supporters to hold the meeting outside, in the compound, sitting on the floor.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) breakaway group’s senior journalist-turned-political activist Nachiketa Desai told Counterview, “Even before Swaraj Abhiayan’s volunteers began on their journey to Sanand villages on June 15 to hold a dialogue with the farmers whose lands had been acquired for the much tom-tommed auto hub, we began getting phone calls from senior district police officials seeking to know what our plans were.” 
Interaction with youth of Shiyawala village on being allowed to proceed
Received by him and Swaraj Abhiyan Ahmedabad district convener, Gujarat high court advocate KR Koshti, Desai said, “Though the police was told that the plan was to visit the villages around the proposed auto hub and interview villagers about their problems and distribute leaflets, we were stopped at the new police station set up just outside the Sanand Industrial Estate.”
“A posse of policemen, led by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, was standing guard at the police chowky. The police asked all of us to come inside and made us answer their questions. They took down the names of each of us, asking us which villages we planned to visit”, Desai said, adding, “Their aim seemed to be to delay our visit to the villages. They strangely told us they apprehended law and order problem if we distributed leaflets.”
“When at one point the police officer asked us to seek permission of the sub-divisional magistrate before proceeding for the villages, Koshti protested, saying this was against law and no permission was needed if it was not a rally, and the police so wished we could be arrested”, Desai said, adding, “This made the cops a little nervous, allowing us to finally proceed, telling us that a party of intelligence officers in plain clothes would follow us in a separate vehicle.”
“We were told by the police officer not to enter any village in our cars as it would appear to be a rally and people start thronging us. We complied with this and parked our cars about one kilometre before the village and walked the distance”, Desai said, adding, “One of the police officials informally said, there were clearcut instructions from the top to stop any efforts to incite farmers. Even a small spark might cause a big fire, looked as if the state government was sitting on a tinderbox.”
Farmers complain of lack of livelihood options
On reaching village Shiyawala – the only village they could approach as much of the time was taken away by the cops – the farmers met Swaraj Abhiyan volunteers “individually andin groups and opened their hearts freely”, Desai reported, adding, “According to villagers, the government had not fulfilled most of the promises and paid them only a partial amount of the promised compensation. While lands have been taken away, nobody had been offered any jobs as a source of livelihood. The villagers were also promised homstead land, a promise not fulfilled”, Desai said.
Meanwhile, the Swaraj Abhiyan’s Gujarat unit has decided to make similar reach out programmes in villages around proposed and existing industrial hubs where farmers are unhappy with the land acquisition process. The spots chosen for future campaign include Dholera special investment region, Mundra special economic zone, Mithi Virdi where a nuclear plant is being planned, Jamnagar, Surat, Dahej, and so on.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

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.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.