Posts Tagged ‘peace march’

India: Brutal Attacks on Protesters- Mahuva Gujarat

February 25, 2010

Message from human rights activist and lawyer, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feb 25, 2010

Peace activists from Gujarat need our help in correcting another wrong. If you will read the note and see the photographs, you’ll realize how once again, the state has bypassed the public they are supposed to represent and taken a decision on their own that will turn 50,000 people into paupers instantly, taking away their source of fertile livelihood. Worse, the Gujarat Government, whose human rights track record is already in tatters, is treating these affected people like criminals, beating them up and treating them as if they are not citizens of a Democratic state, but of a Fascist, Police state. They are, aren’t they?

Tomorrow, these Gandhians are holding a peace march from Sabarmati Ashram to Gandhinagar in Gujarat. The state is already working overtime to prevent people from going to Ahmedabad to attend this padyatra. Loads of people who wanted to go from Mahuva to Ahmedabad were prevented from boarding buses.

Call up the different people, whose numbers are given below. Talk to them and ask them questions about this issue. Make them accountable for their actions. Force them to be democratic. Let them know that another scream of pain will not go unheard, just because its been shouted out in the wilderness. And yes, be prepared to hear lies. Like if you ask them about the lathi charge, the SP of Bhavnagar will tell you that one of the protestors bit up a policeman’s finger. Firstly, it is false and the policeman’s finger got stuck in his own van. But even for an instant let us assume that it is true, is it enough to file an FIR (I asked him are there any other complaints, and the SP said no)? Is it enough to brutally lathi-charge thousands of people that leaves 10 in the hospital? Is this really a democracy?

Democracy is sadly never guaranteed, it has to be fought for and achieved as most of us have seen time and again. If we can’t be there in person with these people who are simply asking to be heard peacefully, we can at least be there in spirit, make a few calls and ensure the safety of these people. That is indeed, the least we can do.

Mahuva area in Bhavnagar district has among the most fertile lands in Gujarat. Unlike most of Gujarat and especially Saurashtra region farmers grow three crops, and exports mangoes, coconuts and other fruits. Moreover, the numerous onion dehydrating plants & cotton gins provide employment to at least 10 000 people. That is the region the Government hardsells as the ‘silver corridor’ of industrial development.

People of this fertile & prosperous region were naturally shocked to discover that the Government of Gujarat sanctioned a cement plant by Nirma Ltd. And 288 hectares (720 acres) for the factory + 3000 hectares (7500 acres) for limestone mining, that would employ all of 418 people for an investment of Rs. 2500 crore (Rs. 25 billion). The cement plant will devastate land owners, rob farmers & farm labourers of their livelihoods, pollute the air and destroy the pristine coastal & inland ecology. It was only in the last few years that the Government invested tens of millions of public money to construct structures for water conservation & prevention of salinity ingress in this very area.

People of at least 15 villages have steadfastly & nonviolently opposed this project over the last one year. The government was forced to appoint a committee to consider people’s opposition. The committee without either visiting the area or listening to the affected people has now given the the company the ‘go-ahead’. This is likely to destroy the lives of around 50 000 people.

Such destructive projects can only be foisted on people using threat & violence. People’s nonviolent resistance has been met with terror unleashed on affected villagers, especially women. On 13th December ’09 the local legislator, Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria, 92 year old Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya, Sagar Rabari, Anirudh Jadeja, Lakhan Musafir and Anand Mazgaonkar were prevented from holding a public meeting in Vangar village. Two local leaders Shri Wamanbhai and Pravinbhai Kathiria were beaten up apparently by hired goons, and other villagers were manhandled by the police.

The police rather than maintaining law and order and facilitating the public meeting acted as company agents. The situation is grim. The company has started pre-construction activities. Affected people have been forced to try to protect their land & livelihoods and it is their firm resolve to nonviolently resist displacement & dis-employment.

After a year long nonviolent protest & efforts to make the Government see reason failed 11,500 (yes more than eleven thousand people) people signed a petition with their blood requesting it to desist from dispossessing them. On Saturday, 20th February around 8-10 000 people took out a silent march along with the local legislator, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya. They were attacked by police. At least 10 people were wounded and needed medical attention. Three of them are still ( as of Monday, 22nd Feb) in hospital. Seven have been arrested and will probably be charged with crimes police have actually committed. Then on Sunday, 21st Feb, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya was attacked by a gang who are suspected to be company goons / security men. both Kanubhai & his wife are in hospital.

This is clearly a State sponsored backlash to scare & prevent people from going ahead with the massive march they have planned from Sabarmati Ashram to Gandhinagar (State capital) on 25th Febraury.

We request you to:

i) be with us, in person those who can, others in spirit on 25th Feb
ii) be on alert to send out protest letters, make phone calls to police, Govt. authorities if there is State violence on 25th (will send out contact details soon)
iii) turn our updates into press releases, news items, stories for the local media
iv) if you are outside India do send your protest letters, news releases, stories to the local India embassy, consulate, public relations office, & if you discover a funding or technology-transfer connection between your local agency & Indian ‘targets’ do create ruckus!
v) we may ask some of you to send solidarity messages or make phone calls to those arrested, injured etc. should some of our worse fears come true

Activists to talk to for more details on the ground reality:

Michael Mazgaonkar 9427188044

Swati Mazgaonkar 9429556163

Sagar Rabari 9428825927

Kapil 9427054132

People from the administration to talk to for more details on the official version of the story:

1) Dist. Superintendent of Police, Bhavnagar, (91) 99784 05067, (0278) 252 0050 / 256 6333, (R) (0278) 256 3333

2) Collector, Bhavnagar District, (M) 9978406206, (R) (0278) 256 88 66, Fax (0278) 242 7941

3) Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Gujarat State, (M) (91)98240 10090, (R) 079-2322 1874 / 2323 2453 / 2325 9661

Kashmiri leader: Resume normal life

October 7, 2008

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Coordination Committee Would Meet On Oct 8 To Decide Future Course Of Action; ‘Curfew Is A Moral Victory Of People’

Srinagar, Oct 6: Urging people to resume normal activities from Tuesday if the curfew restrictions are lifted, Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Monday said  the “Indian response to the Lal Chowk march has conveyed to the world how even the peaceful protests are crushed in Kashmir.”

Mirwaiz, who is senior member of the Coordination Committee (CC) spearheading the present pro-independence struggle in the Kashmir Valley, said the Committee is meeting on October 8 to discuss the future course of action.

Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir that the stringent curfew imposed by the authorities ahead of October 6 march was a “moral victory of the people.” He said the CC had urged people to demonstrate peacefully and not to shout any provocative slogan.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the imposition of curfew as “Martial Law” and “sheer frustration of the government.”

“We were going to hold the peaceful protest at Lal-Chowk but it was thwarted by the imposition of curfew. These restrictions ahead of our march are unjustified and undemocratic,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir by phone.
He said the pro-freedom leaders were either arrested or kept under house arrest. “Even people all across the valley were subjected to house arrest.”

Mirwaiz said that rally was a mere means of registering protests and demanding our right to self-determination. “It was not going to be a referendum. People have already shown what they want in huge rallies in August,” he said.

The Hurriyat chairman said that it was the moral victory of people as they made themselves heard at the international level. “On one hand India calls itself a democratic country but on another hand there is no room for expressing one’s views,” he said.

He condemned the imposition of harassment and restrictions on the movement of journalists in Srinagar and elsewhere.

Mirwaiz said Co-ordination Committee will meet on October 8 to decide the future course of action. The Hurriyat members are later expected to welcome a 15-member AJK chamber of commerce and Industry delegation on Thursday.

Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani also condemned the clamping of curfew in Valley ahead of the march.

“The protests were going to be peaceful so the administration’s decision to impose restrictions is unjustified and uncalled for,” Geelani told Greater Kashmir by phone.

He said it was not the protesters but the police and CRPF troopers that resorted to violence and used brute force against the unarmed civilians in the past three months which resulted in the death of more than 60 persons.

Terming the curfew “as an act of state terrorism”, Geelani said, “Even those who possessed curfew passes issued by the state administration were not honored by the troopers.”

Geelani said the coordination committee was aware of the problems faced by traders, students, and therefore has decided to call off the strike from Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Hurriyat Conference Provincial President Nayeem Ahmad Khan while condemning the detention and arrests of the Hurriyat leaders said India cannot suppress the ongoing struggle use force or placing restrictions.

“India has intensified atrocities on Kashmiri people and dozens of innocent peaceful marchers including senior Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz were killed in indiscriminate firing by troops in last two months,” Khan said.

Khan said that people were going to hold the peaceful demonstrations at Lal Chowk as was done earlier. “India does not want Kashmiris to be heard at international level. But the issue has already caught the international attention and the Indian literate class was now opening supporting the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” he said.

Meanwhile, a CC spokesman said despite curfew restrictions, people in different areas staged peaceful demonstrations.

He said the call for Lal Chowk chalo was given as on this very place first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had promised the people of the Jammu and Kashmir that they would be given the right to choose their destination. ‘’We just want the world to know that we are demanding what we were promised by the first Prime Minister,’’ he said.

He also condemned the house-arrest of senior Hurriyat leaders, including Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others, besides detaining more than 100 senior and other leaders.

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