In Gujarat’s Valsad district, in the Umergaon, Kapdada, Dharmpur, Vapi and Pardi talukas, adivasis with CPI(ML)’s support have been conducting a struggle against loot of their land. The struggle has been resisting grab of adivasi land by land mafia, handover of adivasi land to industrialists by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation GIDC on various pretexts, and demanding implementation of the Forest Rights Act. In exchange for the land grabbed, the adivasis receive a pittance as compensation. The BJP Government and local Congress leadership work in tandem to facilitate the land grab.
The terror unleashed against adivasis is enormous here, and CPI(ML) leaders too have faced murderous attacks. CPIP(ML) leader Laxmanbhai Patanwaria was attacked and injured in 2007; Kapila Ben, the CPI(ML) candidate in the Zila Panchayat polls, was attacked in 2010. A delegation led by Laxcmanbhai Patanwaria to the police thana to raise the issue, was also attacked outside the thana – no FIR was lodged by cops. The attacks took place on orders of the local BJP MLA Raman Patkar.
Agaon on 2 July 2014, goons attacked Laxmanbhai Patanwaria at a bus stop, and soon after, goons surrounded and attacked his house. Because of the tremendous resistance from villagers, the goons had to beat a retreat.
The adivasis have been living on the land for generations, but few have any documents to prove land tenure. Land mafia and GIDC take advantage of this to grab the land. The surrounding area is a chemical industry hub and one of the most polluted areas in the country, and the land is very valuable for corporations.
On 5 August, the party organized a protest march to the Collectorate demanding:
1. Survey the forest land under the FRA and distribute the land to adivasis without delay, giving them documents for their land.
2. Investigate attacks on CPI(ML) leaders and punish the perpetrators and conspirators.
3. Stop the pollution spread by chemical corporations in collution with GIDC, punish companies for poisoning fields and drinking water, making them pay for clean-up and compensation. Close down polluting industries and set up an effective pollution control board.
4. Put a stop to police terror against adivasis
5. Investigate corruption in MNREGA implementation in the whole district and punish the guilty
The demonstration was led by CPI(ML) PB member Prabhat Kumar, the party’s Gujarat in-charge Ranjan Ganguly, State leading team member Laxmanbhai Patanwaria, RYA in-charge Amit Patanwaria, youth leader Kamlesh as well as Kamla Ben and Damayanti Ben.