People's Democracy

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


No. 11

March 17, 2013




CPI(M) Rally Attacks Corrupt Nexus


Mariam Dhawale


ON March 4, 2013, a large and angry rally of thousands of adivasis, led by the CPI(M), marched to the Talasari police station and tehsil office in Thane district, demanding strict action against the land mafia and its corrupt agents who were trying to fleece the poor adivasis of their land. The rally also demanded immediate withdrawal of the false cases against CPI(M) activists who have been fighting against this corrupt land mafia, and action against the police officers responsible for these false cases.




As another basic demand, the rally insisted that the land of the absentee landlords and also forest land which is being tilled for generations by the adivasis be vested in the names of the tribals. To ensure that land became more productive, the rally demanded immediate irrigation facilities from dams that had been completed with funds from the tribal sub-plan, but the water from which was being denied to the tribals and was being sent to the urban areas instead. It is a shameful fact that only two per cent of the agricultural land in Thane district is under irrigation as against the state average of 18 per cent (which is itself abysmally low), in spite of the district having some of the largest water reservoirs in the state.


Well aware of the anger of the tribals, the police headquarters had specially deputed additional superintendent, Nishandar, to meet the CPI(M) delegation in Talasari. The tehsildar of Talasari was also present during the discussion. The administration and the police were warned to solve the long-pending land issues at the earliest and to keep a strict check on the land mafia and its agents. They were apprised of the truth in the numerous false cases registered against CPI(M) activists. The additional SP promised to immediately review these cases and take corrective steps. The delegation also demanded stern action against all the accused in cases of atrocities against women and girl children.


The public meeting was addressed by Dr Ashok Dhawale, Mahendra Singh, J P Gavit (former MLA), L B Dhangar, Lahanu Kom (former MP), Rajaram Ozare (MLA), Mariam Dhawale, Barkya Mangat, Edward Vartha, Ratan Budhar and Rasila Dhodi. Among those in the delegation were Ladak Kharpade, Hemlata Kom, Sangeeta Ozare, Shankar Umbarsada, Radka Kalangada and Rajesh Sadgir.


The rally also gave a call to make a big success of the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha, which was scheduled to address three public meetings in Thane district on March 9 --- at Dahanu, Jawhar and Talasari. Folders about the jatha, published by the CPI(M)’s Maharashtra state committee were, distributed. Over 1000 copies of the CPI(M) state committee’s weekly Jeevanmarg were sold in the rally by a team of DYFI activists.




Taking advantage of the illiteracy and backwardness amongst the tribals during the British rule, the landlord class usurped the former’s lands in Dahanu, Talasari, Palghar, Jawhar and Wada tehsils of Thane district. The adivasis were forced to work as bonded labourers on the very lands which they once owned. It was against this injustice that the historic Warli Adivasi Revolt was organised by the united Communist Party and the Kisan Sabha under the leadership of Godavari Parulekar and Shamrao Parulekar in 1945-47. Fearing the wrath of the tribals who had suffered immense cruelty and exploitation for decades, the landlords fled these areas, and most of them did not return. Godavari’s book Adivasis Revolt clearly brings out this sordid saga of landlord tyranny and the glorious liberation struggle of the adivasis. The tribals took possession of thousands of acres of land, thus ending their life of torture and misery.


Today, these adivasis and their descendants are in possession of large chunks of such land and have been cultivating them for the past 65 years. For many, this is their only means of livelihood. The CPI(M) has been organising regular struggles to get these lands registered in the names of the tribals, since they are still in the names of the absentee landlords who had fled the area long ago.    


Thane district has a large tribal population. Eight tehsils of the district have a majority of tribal population. These tehsils also have large forest areas. Due to the sky-rocketing land prices in the neo-liberal era, land has become a precious commodity today. The builder lobby, in collaboration with the land mafia, has been eyeing this land and has become very active in Thane district, especially because of its proximity to Mumbai. In connivance with the revenue officials, they are operating a racket to cheat the tribals of their land. Bogus land records have been prepared showing some ‘heirs’ of the earlier landlords. The tribals have absolutely no means of verifying or challenging any of these documents. The local land mafia gets in touch with this ‘heir,’ gets a buyer (probably a builder or contractor) for this piece of land and strikes a deal. Then this ‘new owner’ employs the land mafia to clear his land of ‘encroachments’ and to erect a fencing along the boundary of the land he has purchased. The tribals, who are in actual possession of the land, are totally unaware of all these dealings and come to know of them only when attempts are made to put up the compound fence and evict them from their land. In order to have their own share of the spoils, the police too jump into the fray and to protect the criminals. The land mafias belong to the NCP, BJP or Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (the notorious outfit known for forcible eviction of tribals and usurpation of their land by using muscle power).





Kurjhe is a village in Talasari tehsil of Thane district. The Kurjhe gram panchayat, along with most other gram panchayats in Talasari tehsil, is led by the CPI(M). During the gram panchayat elections held recently, the NCP and BJP used all kinds of threats and inducements, but they did not succeed. Here, in one of the padas (hamlets) called Gavitpada, a surreptitious land deal of the above mentioned kind took place. Tribals of Kurjhe village protested against the takeover of the piece of land in Gavitpada and broke down the fence. They did not allow the land mafia, led by Kiran Dhamode who is the tehsil president of the NCP, to evict the poor tribal family there. The sarpanch and up-sarpanch of the Kurjhe gram panchayat intervened to protect the affected tribal families. A fight took place with injuries to both sides. The police let off the land ‘dalals’ and slapped false cases of dacoity and rioting against the sarpanch, up-sarpanch and 11 other comrades, including two women. This triggered an uproar amongst the tribal community all over Talasari tehsil.

During the last assembly elections in 2009, the CPI(M) won the Dahanu (ST) constituency, with Rajaram Ozare being elected MLA. This seat was earlier held by the NCP MLA Krishna Ghoda who is known for shielding corruption in foodgrains and land deals. The constituencies were reorganised before the last assembly elections. The CPI(M), through tremendous hard work and struggles, won this seat. The party has been waging a continuous struggle in Thane district against the onslaught on the people’s rights. Hoarders and blackmarketeers of rationed foodgrains have been exposed. Forest department officials have been prevented from evicting the adivasis from forest plots, and an agitation for implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) is continuing. Demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is being regularly raised. Issues of water, health, education, violence against women, issues facing the Anganwadi and ASHA workers, contract workers, etc are constantly being taken up by the mass organisations.




Unable to break the stronghold of the CPI(M), vested interests in Dahanu and Talasari, led by the NCP and BJP, have started using the help of the police force and are lodging false cases against CPI(M) activists. Blatantly false cases of murder and dacoity are being registered, so that bail is not granted.

In Maharashtra just as elsewhere in the country, the police force is so corrupt that they shield the perpetrators of the crime even in incidents of atrocities on women and girls. It was only after prolonged struggles and determined follow-up by the All India Democratic Women’s Association and Democratic Youth Federation of India that certain cases of atrocities against women could be registered. In the last three years, around 100 leading activists of the CPI(M) have been implicated in various cases through such false complaints.

On February 27, 2012, a CPI(M) and AIDWA woman tribal activist, Mathi Ozare from the Vasa village of Talasari tehsil, was murdered by BJP goons because she had worked sincerely for the victory of the CPI(M) in the just-concluded Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections. She was the 60th martyr of the communist movement in Thane district since the famous Adivasi Revolt of 1945, and the first woman martyr in the district. There had already been a deep and growing sense of anger among the tribals against this corrupt NCP-BJP-land mafia-police nexus, and this anger erupted after the incident in Kurjhe village. The large and spirited rally on March 4 was its result. The rally vowed to further strengthen the struggle.