Conterview, 11 Jan 2015, Gujarat: At a time when farmers across Gujarat were being detained for demanding a fair price for their produce, red carpet was being spread for national and international corporate honchos, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said in a stongly worded statement condemning the arrest of farmers in Gujarat. Qualifying the Vibrant Gujarat business summit, which opened on Sunday in Gandhinagar, as “jamboree”, NAPM said, wondered if it “is a crime to raise the issue of farmers’ suicides and low cotton prices”.
The non-party platform Sanyukta Khedut Sangharsh Samiti was only planning to hand over a memorandum to the Gujarat Government, NAPM, which is the apex body of tens of people’s organisations across India, added.
“Farmers have been preparing and heading for their action spot in Ahmedabad in thousands since morning”, NAPM said, adding, “In a wanton display of its paranoia as well as dictatorial tendencies the Government first tried to scare away bus and other transporters and attempted to force them to cancel farmers’ bookings. But farmers demonstrated their resolve by finding other means to reach the appointed spot. Meanwhile, thousands of farmers are being detained in tens of places across Gujarat”.
First, Shivlal Vekaria (ex-MP) and Chandulal Shingala were detained in Rajkot and then followed the detention of hundreds of farmers in various districts. In the dead of the night – around 12.30 am – Sagar Rabari and Lakhan Musafir were arrested on January 10. Other prominent farmers being detained include Mansukhbhai (Rajkot), Pradyumansinh and Ramdevsinh Chudasma (Dholera), Mahendrasinh Karmariya, Nipul Patel, Yakub Gurji (Bharuch), and Lalji Desai (Becharaji-Mandal).
This apart, Mansa MLA Amitbhai, Dehgam MLA Kaminiben and Jashubhai Rana of Gandhinagar were arrested. Persis Ginwala (Jamin Adhikar Angolan Gujarat or JAAG), Krishnakant and Swati Desai (NAPM) were also detained in the morning.
The farmers’ main demands were:
(2) No de-commanding of Narmada waters and diversion for industries,
(3) Repeal of draconian anti-farmer laws such as Special Investment Region (SIR) Act, and Irrigation Act, and
(4) Immediate withdrawal of the Ordinance making the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act meaningless.
“It has become the standard practice for the Government of Gujarat to clamp down on demands of the poor and toiling people of Gujarat rather than addressing”, NAPM said, adding, “This Government believes in ruling via Ordinances on the one hand, and organising meaning public relations jamboorees – all at tax payers’ expense.”