Mohali: Leaders of farmers in Gujarat – the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – say they have been forced to disguise themselves to evade heavy police surveillance and join protests against agricultural laws.
Palbhai Ambaliya, Yakub Guraji and Jayesh Patel, along with other leaders and representatives of Gujarat farmers’ unions, have formed an umbrella organization called Gujarat Kisan Sangharsh Samiti 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 arrested at home by the Gujarat administration to thwart any protest plan, several farmers said.
While the popular narrative about the agitation of farmers has been that only farmers in Punjab and Haryana are agitating against the law, but the truth is that farmers in Gujarat do not join them because they are not allowed to, Ambaliya said. thread.
“The Gujarat government has deployed state police to monitor mobile phones, our WhatsApp chats, the movement of our vehicles and people coming and going in our homes to prevent us from mobilizing,” the popular leader and farmer activist said by telephone. .
Another farmer leader, Yakub Guraji, accused Gujarat police of harassing his family as he tried to head to New Delhi to join the protest.
“Eight to 10 police officers blocked my way to Delhi on December 11th. They took me into custody and kept me in a cell for one night, despite the fact that they could not cite any charges, “he said.
While the farmers were protesting for his release, the police threw the Guraji family, asking his son about his work. He was not released until the next morning.
“I told the police that more than 10,000 people would march to Delhi from Gujarat in batches. How many people can be arrested and detained? “
Today, December 15, the prime minister, speaking at the inauguration of a mega energy project in Gujarat, Kutch, said the Indian government is “committed to the well-being of farmers and will continue to reassure farmers and address their concerns.” . Ways, too blamed The “opposition” to misleading farmers at a time when the nation is taking a “historic step”.
Excerpts from the conversation with Ambaliya provide a detailed picture of the degree of police surveillance that Gujarat farmers are subjected to. Questions and answers were easily edited for clarity.
First of all, how did you get rid of the police?
On December 6, the Gujarat government somehow learned about our meeting in Ahmedabad under the Gujarat banner Kisan Sangharsh Samiti. At the meeting, I announced that a Kisaan Sansad the program will take place on December 11.
Before hosting the program, I asked the government for permission, but it was rejected. Our plan was to organize Kisan Sansad and 2,000 peasants and workers leave for New Delhi at a rally. Sansad he was scheduled to have speeches only on the issue of farmers. But the government did not give us permission.
In addition, as of December 10, police have begun arresting all farmers’ leaders in turn.
As soon as I found out, I left my home in Dwaraka and headed to Junagarh to avoid imminent arrest. I turned off my phone. Once we reached Junagarh, I turned on the phone. The police somehow managed to track my phone. I got a few phone calls from the police saying I shouldn’t leave the place.
But then I turned off my phone again. I knew which direction the police were coming after me, so I took the opposite route. I went to Kutch, then from there to Gandhinagar. I navigated my way through the state while the police followed me.
At Junagarh, I decided to dress in a disguise. I changed my hair. I usually wear a traditional dhoti, but I bought a pair of jeans and a shirt and put them on. I gave my car to someone else and got another car. I arrived in Udaipur on December 12th.
Similarly, Dahyabhai Gajera, another farm leader, was under house arrest. While the police were at the 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 stop. From there, Dahyabhai secretly took a bus to Udaipur.
As we speak, more than 16 farm leaders in Gujarat are under house arrest. Not everyone has the power to evade a police chase like this. Very few of us could do it. However, there are about 150 people who have managed to leave Gujarat so far. Some of us have reached the Delhi-Jaipur border, and others are at the Singhu border.
Since when are Gujarat farmers vocal against farm laws?
Gujarat farmers have been mobilizing against the ordinances since day one. When it became a bill, I condemned it. When it was adopted by a gross majority, I condemned it. But neither of us was allowed to express our condemnation on a larger scale.
The day before, agricultural organizations requested a Bharat bandha, Chief Minister [Vijay Rupani] he addressed Gujarat traders in the press to say he should not support farmers. The government has also issued a section 144 order. All this is done to create an environment of fear.
Why doesn’t the Gujarat government want you at the protest site in Delhi?
Let me tell you the biggest fear they have. Look at the way the government praises the new laws they have passed. He tries to meet people in the village to convince them of the laws. Likewise, a few years ago, the government launched a crop insurance scheme, which was also praised just like these laws.
But in Gujarat today, the whole scheme proved to be a great failure.
Insurance companies and the government are corrupt. This scheme was also called Prime Minister Modi’s dream project. If it was a dream project, then why was it suspended in Gujarat? We will talk about all this in Delhi Morch and that’s why they don’t want us to be there. The true Gujarat model will be revealed to everyone.
How many Gujarat farmers are likely to join the unrest on the borders of Delhi?
About 200 people are now leaving for Delhi. They will also leave like me, in secret. Currently, in Gujarat, you can’t even say I’m going to Delhi. You can only talk about movement after you leave Gujarat. This is the Gujarat model. All our phones, WhatsApp chats, our vehicles, everything is tracked.
Today, the Prime Minister is meeting with farmers in Kutch, Gujarat. Does he meet them to allay their fears?
After 2002, Kutch became a free zone for business. At that time, a lot of sardines moved to Kutch to do business. Sardines in Kutch are traders, not farmers. The soil in Kutch is not fertile enough for agriculture.
The BJP’s strategy was also to talk to people who speak their language. The farmers he meets will do that. And it is not as if the BJP does not have farmers as members and supporters. There are also some BJP farmers who believe in the ideology of their party.