Skip to main content

Kantibhai Mistry: Gujarat's 'determined' grassroots-level environmental, social activist

Kantibhai Mistry (middle) with Geetaben and Rohit Prajapati
By Rohit Prajapati*
Kantibhai Mistry left this world on Friday, February 28, 2020. He hailed from an ordinary working class family and was principally and passionately associated with numerous fields such as workers movement, Jyoti Karmchari Mandal, Vadodara Kamdar Union.
Not being restricted to these, he was also associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Radical Socialist, movement against the pollution of Sabarmati River, movement against Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Project, communal harmony and so on.
He not only played a crucial supporting role in all these struggles, but also stood strong as a committed and unpretentious activist against all adversaries and adversities. Amongst all of us, he was a 70-year-old young activist. He has also made significant contribution in terms of supporting the works of Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan), a feminist group.
Kantibhai and Geetaben (life partner), together, were also part of many movements like Apna Dhaba, an admirable experiment for the promotion of food made from organic products, where this couple jointly played the crucial role as the main advocates and gained much popularity. It is important to acknowledge their revolutionary efforts for Apna Dhaba enterprise, which gained much acclaim in newspapers.
A trade union activist, Kantibhai was actively involved with the issue of workers' health while constantly being there at the Employees State Insurance (ESI) hospital of Vadodara for help, assistance and support to the ordinary workers. He was popular among the staff, doctors, and workers of the ESI main hospital, Gotri, Vadodara.
He was not only actively involved with labour courts, but also with environmental issues in the Supreme Court, the Gujarat High Court, and the National Green Tribunal. He especially remained present, silently and rock solid, on almost all the important court dates of cases against pollution, Mithivirdi Nuclear Power Plant, Statue of Unity, Garudeshwar Weir and Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Project.
His selfless commitment for critical causes was so extensive that the couple, Kantibhai- Geetaben, alone went to Pune and stayed there for two days in order to file the case against Mithivirdi Nuclear Power Plant in National Green Tribunal after clearing the queries raised at the National Green Tribunal office.
The staff of that office knew him more than they knew us. He remained actively involved in works ranging from public contact in Mithivirdi movement to conferences, meetings, and rallies while taking care of the important responsibilities like filing a petition in National Green Tribunal and maintaining records with the highest possible precision. His alertness and untiring efforts towards work gave inspiration to new activists in movements.
Kantibhai has set a tall example of values, foresight, and sincerity, has proven that educational qualifications, class are irrelevant when the heart is at the right place
We at the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti used to consult him about the administrative process of filing a case in the National Green Tribunal. In not only Vadodara, but journalists also from other cities knew him through his work. We, in routine ongoing activities, acutely felt his absence ever since he became a victim of cancer. He always used to tell us that “just wait for some days and I will once again become active”.
He was such an ardent activist who played the role of strong-willed person in various important movements as a trade union activist. He had such deep bonds with the village people of Mithivirdi-Jasapara villages that it seemed as if a hotline was established between them over the phone.
All the people who know us from within and outside the country know Kantibhai closely as a grassroots activist, and more importantly as person with great inner strength and will to contribute in various ways for different critical causes.
Kantibhai has set a tall example of values, sensitivity, foresight, and sincerity; he has proven that educational qualifications and class are all irrelevant when the heart is in the right place, working towards significant causes.
Not only the workers or the affected people of the so called Development Projects but Narmada, Mahisagar, Vishwamitri, Sabarmati, Damanganga, etc. rivers are also remembering him with a Revolutionary Salute.
___
*Senior activist, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

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.

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".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i