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Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

Lakhan Musafir addressing tribals
By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.
Their inability to address such long-pending, on-going piling up of the issues regarding right to life, livelihood and survival of the tribal population of the area, are reflected in the form of Section 144, house arrests, detentions, intimidations, undeclared curfews, and beyond.
To top all this, the unconstitutional Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019, is being implemented with full force.
In spite of all the stated actions by the local people and concerned members of civil society, the Central and state governments of the day, and their bureaucracy, are unable to address the long-pending livelihood, constitutional issues and have now decided to banish activist Lakhan Musafir for two years from Narmada, Bharuch, Vadodara, Chhota Udepur and Tapi districts.
On March 2, 2020, KD Bhagat, sub-divisional magistrate, Rajpipla, Gujarat, issued a notice under section 56(A), Gujarat Police Act 1951, through the police sub-inspector, Kevadia, on March 8, 2020, when Lakhan Musafir was standing near the road at Kevadia, waiting for public transport.
The notice mentioned some documents as annexures, but he was not served with copies of those documents along with the notice. Alarmingly, the notice has false accusations and untruthful statements.
A land rights activist, Lakhan Musafir works for empowerment of tribals, even as promoting organic farming and bio-gas plants
Banishment is an action of the state, which clearly indicates the defenceless and repressive state of the governments of the day that do not have any answers to the fundamental Constitutional questions raised by the tribal population of the area.
It is a clear indication that the governments of the day are not able to defend their unconstitutional actions before the people of India and its world tourists in any legitimate way. It exposes the complete inability to defend its on-going illegal and boldly unconstitutional actions. The chosen action by the governments reflects their frustration and desperation to prevent people from raising their issues in legitimate ways permitted under the law of the land.
Lakhan Musafir (extreme left) with his supporters
It is an open secret that the governments have either deliberately chosen to not accept people’s legitimate concerns or have failed to do so. Instead of lamenting the fact that no local people are willing to file a complaint against Lakhan Musafir or blaming him for his actions, the governments should introspect and realise that local people don’t consider him as anti-social or a menace to society, as government machinery so conveniently believes and asserts.
Lakhan Musafir is an activist who has dedicated his life for the empowerment of the downtrodden people by helping them with organic farming, bio-gas plants, education, and particularly for the rights of the tribal families affected by Garudeshwar Weir and tourism projects in the name of the Statue of Unity.
Practicing Gandhian philosophy in day-to-day life and living a very simple life with tribals for the last many years, instead of accepting the unbelievable accusations against Lakhan Musafir, people and media need to engage with collective questioning, sustained resistance, and demand for the application of Constitutional rights and rule of the law in letter and spirit.
It is time to for people to wake up and take concerted and legitimate actions to stop this flimsily built case against a self-less person that Lakhan Musafir is. He a resident of Gujarat and citizen of India.
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*Activist, researcher and writer. Also see Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

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