People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 48

December 07, 2008



Ghera Dalo-Dera dalo Movement by Flood Victims Concludes Successfully

Abadhesh Kumar

Indefinite mass squatting (Ghera Dalo-Dera Dalo) by more than 15,000 flood victims before the commissionerís office at Saharsa, successfully concluded on its second day on December 2, 2008, after getting some concrete assurances from the divisional commissioner. It is to be noted that the decision to organise Ghera Dalo-Dera Dalo was taken in the wake of deteriorating condition of the flood victims due to callous attitude of Bihar government and its officials. Contrary to the public announcement and the promises made by Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, the relief camps were forcibly closed and flood victims were chased away. Despite the fact that their houses are still damaged or are under knee-deep water, distribution of the relief materials, cash and grains have been stopped. Lakhs of hectares of land are still under water or covered by sands and have become uncultivable. Tens of thousands of cattles have perished, road and railway communications are still cut off in major parts of Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa districts. Winter has set in, but majority of flood victims have no warm cloths or fuel to save themselves.

In this background, Barh Peerit Jagaran campaign was organised from November 1-30, 2008 throughout the flood affected areas and massive demonstrations were held before the district headquarters on November 15, 17 and 18 at Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura respectively. However, no concrete steps were taken by the government officials to mitigate the problems of flood victims.

In this situation, on December 1, 2008, more than ten thousand flood affected people of Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura districts started squatting before the commissionerís office in Saharsa demanding adequate relief and compensation for the loss of lives, cattle, crops and houses. They were also demanding stern action against the persons responsible for breach in the bund of Kosi river at Kusaha and immediate repairing of the bund and restoration of the communications - railway and other transport network. State and district leaders of CPI(M),Kisan Sabha and other mass organisations addressed the squatters. The squatting was led by Balram Singh Yadav, former MLC and vice president of Bihar state Kisan Sabha.

S Ramachandran Pillai, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M) and president, AIKS and N K Shukla, joint secretary of All India Kisan Sabha addressed the protestiors. They also participated in this campaign in November.

The squatting continued whole night with slogans, songs and speeches rendering the air. On the second day, the number of participants swelled to more than fifteen thousand. All the roads around the commissionerís office were blocked. Tension was mounting because of non co-operative attitude of officials. The protesters were determined not to end the squatting unless some concrete assurances on relief and rehabilitation are given by the competent authorities.

After discussions with the authorities, and after getting some concrete assurances, it was decided with the consent of the squatters to conclude the protest and wait for the result of the implementation of assurances for a fortnight. It was also decided that large number of flood victims will join the march to the office of the chief minister in Patna on December 13, 2008.

At the end, the squatters were addressed by Vijaykant Thakur, CPI(M) Bihar state secretary, Subodh Roy ex MP and president Bihar state Kisan Sabha, Abadhesh Kumar, secretary Bihar state Kisan Sabha, Sarvodaya Sharma, editor Lok Janvad, Balram Singh Yadav, former MLC and vice president, Bihar state Kisan Sabha, Binod Kumar, secretary, Saharsa disrict committee, Ganesh Manav, secretary, Madhepura district committee of CPI(M) and others.