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#MittiSatyagraha: Parallel civil society Dandi yatra continues amidst police 'obstruction'

Activists stopped at Umrachhi on way to Dandi 
By Our Representative
A civil society-sponsored #MittiSatyagraha Yatra, which has commenced across India amidst Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high profile Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, has seen a nervous administration in Gujarat seeking to block the entry of  activists at a spot near Dandi, where the yatra was heading. 
The yatra has begun from Mumbai (Maharashtra), Bhadwani and Rewa (Madhya Pradesh), Champaran (Bihar), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Varanasi (UP), Bellary (Karnataka) and Amritsar (Punjab), and is scheduled to reach Delhi borders on April 6.
One of the yatras, which began from Dandi on March 30, and is scheduled to end on the borders of Delhi, where farmers are protesting, met with "obstruction" from Gujarat police, which, said senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, “blocked” the marchers’ entry into Umrachi village, where Gandhiji had stayed before reaching Dandi, about 35 kilmetres away.
“We had gone to collect mitti and to draw inspiration from his satyagraha. Since then police and intelligence is following us everywhere”, tweeted Hashmi, adding, “In gross violation of our democratic rights the mitti satyagraha yatra is being shadowed by intelligence men and police. A police jeep trailed us.”
Meanwhile, a civil society statement said, “The Mitti Satyagraha Yatra is a national collective effort of various people's organisations, who are all committed to supporting the farmers struggles and their demands to repeal the unjust draconian laws”, adding, “Our slogan is -- Ek mutthi de do mitti, kisan- mazdoor janshakti!” (Give handful of soil – farmers-workers people’s power.”
The statement, issued following activists began their yatra, said, “We are appealing to the people to give a fistful of soil, symbolising our support for the farmers of our country”, adding, “Drawing our inspiration from Gandhiji, we have launched a Mitti Satyagraha to save the soil, the mitti of our land, our farms, our natural resources, our rivers and our lakes, our public sector -- all of which are being sold off to the crony-capitalists by the present Modi regime.”
The statement further said, “The soil, our mitti, symbolises both our economic and political sovereignty, even as it is this very soil that symbolises the rich cultural diversity and unity of our country”, adding, “After collecting the soil of Dandi, we went onto Umrachi, Vallabh Vidyalaya (Bhorasan, Anand), Karamsaar, the birth place of Vallabhbhai Patel.”
The yatra route consists of Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Himmatnagar in North Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab to the borders of Delhi, the site of the farmers’ protest.
Commented Dr Sunilam of the All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), said, "Our yatra is committed to the demands of the farmers and our strugglewill continue till the three farm bills are repealed. Thus during the yatra, we explain the details of the bills, as well as the MSP, to the farmers and the people that we meet." 
Activists Shabnam Hashmi, Uttam Parmar at Dandi
He went on to add, "It was from the very land of Gujarat that Mahatma Gandhi picked up handful of salt, to both challenge the might of the British Empire, even as he removed the fear and instilled courage in the hearts of millions of Indians, who too then participated in lakhs to break the unjust laws, thus marking the beginning the civil-disobedience movement of 1930. Similarly today, a fistful of soil symbolises the very same strength, the very same values of peaceful resistance to secure our rights".
Hashmi , who heads Anhad, said, "We are opposed to the corpotisation of agriculture. The farmers are aware that the three bills will lead to the ruin of the farmers, as contract farming will lead to the farmers eventually losing their lands to the corporations. We are also opposed to the continuing suppression of democratic rights, where activists are continuously targeted for expressing their view." 
\She added, "Our yatra is also being continuously tailed and monitored, despite the fact that we are committed to peaceful paths of satyagraha. Even for a simple press conference to be organised in Ahmedabad requires great struggle, as most fear the state, the undeclared emergency".
Prafulla Samantra of the National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) stated, "The farmers’ struggle is the biggest movement in the present times & unique in history. It is committed to resisting and defeating the Crony-capitalist forces". 
Added Feroze Mithiborwala of the Hum Bharat Ke Log, “The Mitti Satyagraha is a unique movement in itself and is succeeding in reaching out to the masses for the cause of building nationwide solidarity for the farmers movement".
Dev Desai of Anhad asserted, "We have succeeded in collecting the soil of Gujarat from all the 33 districts and more than 800 villages. We have been helped by the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs), farmers and various people's organisations to collect the mitti, which will go to the protest sites in Delhi, where finally a Shaheed Smarak will be constructed at each of the borders, marking our respect to the 315 Farmers who stand martyred."
Krishnakant of NAPM, Gujarat, said, "We are receiving very good cooperation from the people of Gujarat in our mitti satygraha. Thus Dandi to Delhi is our call, from Namak Satyagraha to Mitti Satyagraha".
Claiming “great support and cooperation, the statement said, “The Mitti Satyagraha campaign registers its complaint wherein now even holding a press conference in Gujarat has become an impossible task, where organisations to private halls refuse to provide their space for the same. Here both the role of the state govt and the police and IB machinery must be questioned, as its a clear suppression of our democratic rights.”

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