People's Democracy

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


No. 11

March 17, 2013


Western Jatha in Warli Tribal Revolt Region


N S Arjun


THE Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha journeyed into the historic Warli tribal revolt  region in Thane district on its second day on Saturday, March 09. Impressive meetings were held in Dahanu, Jawahar and Talaseri towns, which were the epicentre of the tribal revolt in 1945. It may be recalled the Warli tribals, led by the Communist Party and its legendary leaders Godavari Parulekar and Shamrao Parulekar, revolted against the big landlords, sahukars and the British in 1945. The landlords who were holding thousands of acres of land each as absentee landlords had to flee from the area due to this rebellion and the lands were re-occupied by the tribals.


Ever since, this region has been a stronghold of the Party and the struggle for land continues till date in different forms. There is a concerted effort by the descendants of absentee landlords and sahukars to recapture the lands from tribals. With land rates zooming up because of proximity to Mumbai, there is an urgency in this effort by them using the government machinery. The CPI(M) has in few cases resorted to direct action and demolished whatever structures were being built in such lands and ensured that the possession of tribals continued. It is an ongoing struggle.


Today, as the jatha reached Dahanu town centre around 1 pm, thousands of people who braved hot sun, greeted the leaders with shouts of 'Inquilab zindabad'.  Majority of the gathering were poor tribal women. Jatha member and Maharashtra state secretariat member Mariam Dhawale speaking first in the meeting attacked the NCP-Congress leaders for trampling the rights of tribals. Yechury in his speech lambasted the prime minister Manmohan Singh for stubbornly refusing to strengthen the Public Distribution System in the country. “Here is a prime minsiter who preferred to fatten the rats that were eating the rotting foodgrains in godowns rather than feed the starving millions in the country”, he said. This region, particularly Talaseri, has faced severe drought in the recent period. But the PDS here is in a shambles with rampant corruption fostered by the nexus between ruling NCP-Congress leaders, officials and police. The CPI(M) is engaged in a big struggle to prevent this corruption. Recently, it caught red-handed a truck of PDS ration that was being siphoned off in a private godown. Although the administration was forced to slap cases against the dealer and few NCP-Congress leaders, it finally turned out to be an exercise in whitewash.


Mohd Salim said the prevelance of aneamia in 70 per cent of pregnant women in the country is because of lack of food security to the people and wondered how the rulers keep talking of 'development'. Nilotpal Basu explained the purpose of jatha and the need to intensify struggles to better their lives. CPI(M) Maharashtra state secretary Ashok Dhawale also addressed the meetings.





Continuing its journey in the mountainous tribal region of Maharashtra, the Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha entered into Nashik district on Sunday, March 10 after crossing a brief stretch in Gujarat. Warli tribe people inhabit this corridor that stretches from Thane, Nashik and Dhule districts in Maharashtra to Walsad, Dangs and Surat districts of Gujarat.


The biggest public meeting in the journey so far was held in Kalwan taluka headquarters where nearly 15,000 people gathered in conditions of hot sun to listen to the message of struggle. With the condition of the road leading to the town in very bad shape, the jatha reached the venue late by over an hour and half. Yet, the large gathering of tribal peasants, dressed in their traditional dress of white dhoti and white shirt with a white Gandhi topi, waited patiently at the local mandi ground. Tribal women were also present in large numbers. As the jatha convoy drove into the ground and the leaders disembarked, the crowd greeted them with loud shouts of Lal bauta zindabad!


Yechury in his speech informed the gathering about the work done by the Left Front government in Tripura for the betterment of the lives of tribals in that state. About 98 per cent of applications for grant of land rights under Forest Rights Act were approved by the government and Tripura stood first in the country in implementation of the Act. He contrasted this with Maharashtra government that approved only 17,000 applications out of the total 51,000 it received.


Mohd Salim, Nilotpal Basu, Mariam Dhawale, Ashok Dhawale, MLA Ozhare and local leader and former MLA J P Gavit also addressed the meeting. The CPI(M) is relatively less strong in Kalwan area when compared to the adjoining Surgana, which assembly seat was regularly won by the Party. In the recent election,  following delimitation, Surgana has been clubbed with Kalwan and a new assembly segment Kalwan-Surgana (ST) has been created. The Party has conducted militant struggles here on the issues relating to PDS, land rights to tribals, drought relief etc. The huge turnout for the public meeting was a reflection of the support for the struggles.


Earlier in the day, students and staff of the tribal Ashram residential higher secondary school in Alungul village, being run by the trust 'Adivasi Pragati Mandal', gave a warm reception to the jatha. The students lined up the road leading to the school to greet the jatha convoy. The 'Godavari-Shamrao Parulekar College' in Talaseri, which provides education to over 2000 students, is also run by this trust. With streams of Arts, Science, Commerce available upto Degree standard, and also a department that is linked with Open University, this college is famous in the region. Over 90 per cent of its students are tribals. Last December, Yechury inaugurated a new building of this college. Students studying in the schools and colleges run by the trust have bagged many awards and ranks at the state-level. In Talaseri taluk alone, the trust runs three high schools upto 10th standard for both boys and girls with residential option.




On the fourth day after flag off, the western jatha entered Madhya Pradesh state on the afternoon of Monday, March 11 through Bharwani district bordering Maharashtra. The jatha was received at the border point by Party comrades from Madhya Pradesh state committee. Maharashtra state secretary Ashok Dhawale and AIKS state secretary Kisan Gujar accompanied the jatha till the border point, from where they returned back.


After the first meeting in Rajnagar in Bharwani district of Madhya Pradesh, again a tribal region, the jatha moved on to Mhow, which is famous as the birthplace of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.  After paying tributes to Ambedkar at the statue erected near his ancestral home, Yechury addressed the public meeting. He started by saying that one of the main intentions of the jatha is to underline the need for struggles to resolve the basic contradiction pointed out by Babasaheb Ambedkar when he presented the draft of Indian Constitution to the Constituent Assembly. Ambedkar had warned that unless socio-economic inequalities, where one man does not possess one value, are removed, our political structure, where one man has one vote, will be blown asunder. Yechury said today socio-economic inequalities are growing at a fast pace in the country. He called for intensifying struggles against the neo-liberal economic policies that are the root cause of such growing inequality.


Earlier in the morning, the jatha's Maharashtra leg of the journey concluded with an impressive public meeting in Prakasha village in the tribal dominated Nandurbar district with over 4000 tribals attending it. As was recurrent through out this leg, tribal women dominated in numbers. The jatha was received few kilometres from Prakasha by a contingent of around 100 red volunteer motorcyclists.


As the convoy reached the venue, it was greeted by a large group of tribal men and women with traditional music and dance. The rhythmic beat from two huge drums, accompanied with howling sounds of the youth and the gracious steps of women, both old and young, charged the atmosphere. Yechury, Nilotpal Basu, Mohd Salim, Mariam Dhawale and Ashol Dhawale walked with the sloganeering crowd for about a kilometre to reach the venue. The leaders were given traditional tribal headgear before the start of the meeting. Yechury called upon the gathering to come and join the March 19 public meeting in Delhi which would give a clarion call for struggles to better the lives of common masses. Others also addressed the gathering.


At a press conference at the government rest house in Nandurbar town, Yechury said there is growing pressure from below within political parties that were pursuing neo-liberal economic policies to change course. He cited the case of Samajwadi party that had protested on the streets against FDI in retail but supported the government in parliament on the same issue. He said the struggles outside would help in forcing such parties leadership to change course. The fourth day of jatha concluded with a public meeting in the night in Indore city.