People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 27, 2007
Successful Bandh In Bhavnagar
A POPULAR movement has been launched in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat against illegal land grabbing of Sunderbans forest area, including the sorrounding lake land, in the name of privatisation. The entire district of Bhavnagar observed a successful bandh on May 1 to warn the Narendra Modi-led BJP government against gifting away of such important land.
A group of social activists approached the CPI(M) leadership to start a sustained agitation against attempts to gift away this land totally 130 acres, which was originally donated by Rajkumar Shivkumar, son of Late Maharaja Krishna Kumar, for public use. The local municipality was given all rights for use of this land. But the state government was intent on gifting this land away to certain private players and moves were initiated for this purpose. The BJP-led Municipal Corporation convened a general body meeting to formalise this move just two-days before the bandh. This meeting ended in a fracas as there was stiff resistance to such gifting away of the land. Non-BJP councillors, including from Congress, clashed the BJP councillors on this issue.
All non-BJP forces came together under the umbrella of ‘Jal-Jamin-Jungle-Jeev Bachao Samiti’ (JJJJBS) to fight this move of the government. The Congress, which initially hesitated to join, later plunged into the movement realising it would be isolated. Even Rajkumar Shivkumar, BJP leader, agreed to preside over the all party meeting organised on this issue despite his party choosing to stay away from it. He announced his resignation from the party and pledged to remain with the movement till the end. It was decided to organise a one-day bandh in the district on May Day, which also happened to be the state formation day.
Various social organisation, welfare associations, traders organisations, dalit organisations, autorickshaw unions, local Bar association, teachers organisations etc all supported the bandh call. CPI(M) and other trade unions declared that this year’s May Day would be observed as ‘Anti-Privatisation Day’.
Workers, teachers and other sections of society marched on the streets in Bhavnagar immediately after observing May Day in the morning through hoisting of Red flags. CPI(M) state secretary Arun Mehta and Bhavnagar district secretary Nalini Jadeja led the marchers through the thoroughfares of the district headquarters. Various organisations participating in the bandh led their followers in many places. Angry shouts of ‘BJP Down Down’ rent the air. Slogans against the BJP leader and state finance minister Vajubhai Vala were raised as it is widely perceived that the government’s moves are aimed at benefiting him.
The activities culminated in the evening in a mass meeting held at Ghoga Gate, which was joined in huge numbers by AIDWA. The statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was garlanded on this occasion. Speakers at the meeting exhorted the people not to rest till the government backs off from its move. The unity displayed by the people during the agitation was commended by the speakers. The meeting ended in a firm resolve to stop the state government’s move through struggle.
PROTESTS AGAINST FAKE ENCOUNTERS
The CPI(M) Gujarat state unit and AIDWA state unit held protest demonstrations against fake encounter killings committed by senior police officials in collusion with the political higher-ups in administration.
These protests were held at Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Upleta, Dhoraji, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Palitana, Surat, Kheda, Dahod, Panchmahal, Sabarkhanta etc. The protestors demanded the resignation of state home minister Amit Shah and institution of a CBI probe to look into the complicity of the state government. Memorandums were submitted to the state governor through various district collectors making these demands. The AIDWA units focussed on the killing of Kausarbibi and highlighted the absurdity of state chief minister Narendra Modi conducting a ‘Beti Bachao Mahila Sammelan’ (Save Daughters Conference of Women).