Mohali: Gujarat’s agricultural leaders – the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – say they had to disguise themselves to avoid heavy police surveillance and join the protests against the farm laws.
Palbhai Ambaliya, Yakub Guraji and Jayesh Patel, along with other leaders and representatives of Gujarat’s farmers ’unions, formed an umbrella organization called Gujarat Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, on December 6, to mobilize support for the‘ Delhi Chalo ’protest by farmers in northern India.
However, almost all the leaders present at the December 6 meeting were under house arrest by the Gujarat administration to thwart any plans of protests, some of the peasants said.
While the popular story surrounding the agitation of the peasants was that only Punjabi and Haryana peasants are agitating against the laws, but the truth is that peasants from Gujarat do not adhere to it because they are not allowed to, Ambaliya said. The wire.
“The Gujarat government has deployed the state police to monitor mobile phones, our WhatsApp talks, the movement of our vehicles and the people going out and going into our houses to prevent us from mobilizing,” the popular peasant leader and activist said by telephone.
Another agricultural leader Yakub Guraji accused the Gujarat police of harassing his family as he tried to go to New Delhi to join the protest.
“Eight to 10 policemen blocked my way to Delhi on December 11. They arrested me and held me in a cell for a night despite not being able to cite charges,” he said.
As peasants demonstrated for his release, police raided Guraji’s family, asking their son about his job. He was released only the next morning.
“I told the police that more than 10,000 people will march to Delhi from Gujarat in batches. How many people can they arrest and arrest?”
Today, December 15, the prime minister, speaking during the inauguration of a mega energy project in Gujarat Kutch, said that the government of India is “dedicated to peasant welfare and will continue to ensure the peasants and address their concerns.” Fashion too blamed the “opposition” to mislead the peasants at a time when the nation is taking a “historic step.”
Excerpts from the conversation with Ambaliya offer a detailed picture of the degree of police surveillance to which farmers in Gujarat are subjected. The questions and answers were slightly edited for clarity.
First, how did you escape the police?
On December 6, the Gujarat government somehow found out about our meeting that took place in Ahmadabad under the banner of the Gujarati Kisan Sangharsh Samiti. At the meeting, we announced that a Kisaan Sansad program will take place on December 11th.
Before hosting the program, we asked permission from the government, but it was denied. Our plan was to hold the Kisan Sansad and leave for New Delhi at a rally of 2000 peasants and workers. La Sansad was planned to speak only on the matter of the peasants. But the government did not give us permission.
In addition, as of December 10, police have begun arresting all peasant leaders one after another.
As soon as I found out about it, I left my home at Dwaraka and headed to Junagarh to avoid my imminent arrest. I turned off my phone. After I reached Junagarh, I briefly turned on my phone. The police somehow tracked my phone. I got a few phone calls from the police saying I shouldn’t leave the place.
But then I turned on my phone again. I knew which way the police would come for me, so I took the opposite route. I went to Kuch, then from there to Gandhinagar. I sailed through the state while the police chased me.
At Junagarh, I decided to put on a disguise. I changed my hair. I usually wear a traditional loincloth, but I bought jeans and a shirt and put them on. I gave my car to someone else, and got me another car. I reached Udaipur on 12 December.
Similarly, Dahyabhai Gajera, another farmer, was arrested at home. But while the police were at his front door, he managed to escape through the back door with the help of his son. His son quickly dropped him off at a nearby bus stand. From there, Dahyabhai took a bus to Udaipur in secret.
As we speak, more than 16 farm leaders of Gujarat are home-arrested. Not everyone has the strength to avoid a police chase like that. Very few of us could do it. Despite all this, there are about 150 people who have so far been able to leave Gujarat. Some of us have reached the Delhi-Jaipur border and some are at the Singhu border.
Since when do the farmers of Gujarat express their voice against the farm laws?
The peasants of Gujarat have been mobilizing against the prescriptions since day one. When it became a Bill, we condemned it. When it was approved by a crude majority, we condemned it. But none of us was allowed to utter our condemnation on a larger scale.
A day before farming organizations called for Bharat Bandh, the prime minister [Vijay Rupani] addressed Gujarat traders through the press to say they should not support the farmers. The government has also issued an order on section 144. All this is being done to create an environment of fear.
Why doesn’t the Gujarat government want you at the Delhi protest website?
Let me tell you the biggest fear they have. Look at how the government is praising the new laws they have passed. They try to meet people in the village to convince them of the laws. Likewise, a few years ago, the government launched crop insurance, which has also been praised as those laws are praised.
But in Gujarat today, the whole plan proved to be a great failure.
Insurance companies and the government are corrupt. This plan was also called Prime Minister Modi’s dream project. If it was a dream project, why was it canceled in Gujarat? We will talk about all this in Delhi morcha and that is why they do not want us to be there. The true Gujarat model will be revealed to everyone.
How many farmers from Gujarat are likely to move to the borders of Delhi?
About 200 more people are leaving for Delhi now. They will also leave like me, in secret. Right now in Gujarat, you can’t even say you are going to Delhi. You can only talk about the movement after you leave Gujarat. This is the Gujarat model. All our phones, WhatsApp chats, our vehicles, everything is watched.
Today the prime minister meets the peasants of Kuch in Gujarat. Does he meet them to allay their fears?
After 2002, Kutch became a free zone for trade. At that time many Sardinians moved to Kuch to do business. The sardines in Kuch are traders, not farmers. The soil in Kuch is not fertile enough for farming.
Also the strategy of BJP was that they would speak to people who speak their language. The peasants he meets will do that. And not so much as BJP has no peasants as members and supporters. Some peasants in BJP also believe in the ideology of their party.