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How Vimal Bhai organised, educated displaced Khori settlers, termed 'encroachers' by SC

Counterview Desk 

The Khorigaon Team Saathi, formed following the massive demolition drive in Haryana's Khori village in which a few thousand houses were razed last year after a Supreme Court order calling the 50-year-old settlement an encroachment on forest land, in a glowing tribute to activist Vimal Bhai, has said, "He was the force behind our determination to fight for justice against the demolition of our homes."
A senior social and environmental activist with the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Vimal bhai, unwell with fever and fatigue after suffering from Covid-19 complications, was admitted first in Delhi's Safdarajang hospital on August 10, and the same evening was admitted to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, owing to his deteriorating health situation. He passed away on August 16.
In a glowing tribute to Vimal Bhai, known to be a top associate of top social activist Medha Patkar, the Khorigaon Team Saathi said, "We will continue the journey started by Vimal Kaka."

Text:

Our Vimal kaka is no more with us. He was the force behind our determination to fight for justice against the demolition of our homes. His demise has left a big void in our hearts and homes. But his words, methods and vision will continue with us. We, Khori saathis, are gradually finding the strength to continue the movement.
Kaka had been unwell for a few months due to Covid-related complications. When his health condition further deteriorated, we took him to Safdarjung hospital and based on their doctor’s advice, we shifted him to AIIMS the same evening. Kaka’s situation was already very critical, but he fought till 15th of August. He passed away due to complications related to the kidney, lungs, liver and reduced immunity.
From 10th Aug to 15th August, many of Vimal Kaka’s friends and family came and stood with us. We are very grateful to them. Their support was crucial for Vimal Bhai’s medical care and our mental strength. Kaka was our family during the last 13 months, and we were his.
During these few days, we realised he had made families everywhere he went and worked. When we read the messages people have shared for him, we are overwhelmed with pride and gratitude. Vimal kaka was a towering personality, a social and environmental activist unparalleled.
Kaka came into our lives when all roads seemed to have ended after the 7th June 2021 court order. We were imprisoned within our settlement through the declaration of section 144 and threatened every day by the police for a month before the demolition started. Kaka came to meet us in the evenings after the police left to give us strength, educate us and organise.
He was aware we did not have property papers, and many even did not have the correct government documents for rehabilitation. He taught us how to create a record of the people and what type of documents we had in such difficult times. It is because of this list that he forced us to put together quickly we are able to continue the fight for rehabilitation.
The public hearing organised by Kaka while the demolition was underway was another such step that has had a lasting impact. In the hearing, we got a chance to speak to academics, lawyers, journalists and other activists.
We realised we were not alone. Some of the associations we made that day continues to date. He has been the link between the ground struggle and the legal and rehabilitation processes with the state. Even though he is not with us now, his writings and voice messages – Khori updates, will continue to give us strength.
Vimal Kaka was an institution in himself. However, during the last 13 months, there were many moments when he struggled to find solidarity for Khori Gaon’s movement. But during the time in the hospital, when others came to take care of us, we realised how his strategies and thinking had broken barriers and united us. We are confident these associations will continue.
Kaka has been celebrating all major events and festivals with us for the last 13 months, and we would have done something together this year too. But he had grander plans. He wanted all his many families to come together and celebrate his life.
We will continue the journey started by Vimal Kaka.

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