On July 14, 2007, the Adivasis of Pangan and Mograpada, small villages at about 70 Km from Dhule suddenly found a fleet of more than 40 vehicles entering their village and before they could comprehend what it was they found themselves getting thrashed. It was at about 1 pm, the police and the Suzlon goons got out in an inebriated state and began thrashing the stray people they found on the roads and putting them into a van. They headed to the spot in Mograpada, about a km away where Suzlon had dug up the first pit for constructing foundation for the tower in the encroached land under Adivasi cultivation in February this year. Adivasis have been agitating against it and had succeeded in preventing the company to work there. Wondering what the police and the company were up to, some 40 to 50 people collected around the land in question from Mograpada. Some people pelted stone to enable the police burst tear gas shells. Adivasis panicked that it was gun fire and ran helter skelter. The police then ran after them and thrashed wounding some 30-40 people, many among them women variously. 18 people, one of them a girl studying for her D Ed were arrested and detained for three days before they were released on bail.
In the face of it, it was a minor incidence by the contemporary standard. Indeed it may not appear noteworthy these days to people inured to read about police firing on hapless Dalits and Adivasis and perpetrating torture and fake encounters stamping them as naxalites. If it was not for its context, it would not have been possible for anyone to take a special note of it. This historical context comprised their agitation that goes back to early sixties; the agitation to secure ownership rights for the forest land they cultivated for generations. It is the agitation that took the issue to the Supreme Court for the first time in the country and won its favourable verdict for all the Adivasis that acknowledged the historical wrong done to them and legitimated the process for its correction. Many corrective legislations also came, before and after the Supreme Court verdict, the latest being the Forest Act in 2006, but nothing changed for the Adivasi on ground. Their agitation continued as before, now for getting the law implemented by the nonchalant Administration. While this was on, they found their lands already transferred to a Wind Energy Multinational over night. The Adivasis’ agitation was now naturally directed against the company’s occupation of lands, although it was basically against the Administration that facilitated it. The Administration succeeded in killing two birds with one stone: one, they could effectively divert the issue and two; they could project the agitation as anti-development, anti-clean energy, anti-Suzlon, which goes well with the contemporary neoliberal paradigm.
This context made this minor-looking incident intriguing enough as it bared the partial character of the state machinery that persistently ignores Adivasis’ lawful demands but bends backward to facilitate the business interests of a multi-national corporate at the expense of justice. This prima facie reading of the information that reached us on August 05, 2007 prompted us to constitute a Fact Finding Enquiry into the incident.
This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.
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