Continuing its journey in the mountainous tribal region of Maharashtra, the Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha entered into Nashik district on Sunday, March 10 after crossing a brief stretch in Gujarat. Warli tribal people inhabit this corridor that stretches from Thane, Nashik and Dhule districts in Maharashtra to Walsad, Dangs and Surat districts of Gujarat.
The biggest public meeting in the journey so far was held in Kalwan taluka headquarters today where nearly 15,000 people gathered in conditions of hot sun to listen to the message of struggle. With the condition of the road leading to the town in very bad shape, the jatha reached the venue late by over an hour and half. Yet, the large gathering of tribal peasants, dressed in their traditional dress of white dhoti and white shirt with a white Gandhi topi, waited patiently at the local mandi ground. Tribal women were also present in large numbers. As the jatha convoy drove into the ground and the leaders disembarked, the crowd greeted them with loud shouts of Lal bauta zindabad!
Yechury in his speech informed the gathering about the work done by the Left Front government in Tripura for the betterment of the lives of tribals in that state. About 98 per cent of applications for grant of land rights under Forest Rights Act were approved by the government and Tripura stood first in the country in implementation of the Act. He contrasted this with Maharashtra government that approved only 17,000 applications out of the total 51,000 it received.
Referring to the latest scam related to farm loan waiver scheme of the central government, Yechury announced that the CPI(M) would raise this issue in the ongoing session of parliament. Despite lakhs of farmers committing suicide in the country and more so in Maharashtra, the governments were not taking any effective steps to make farming viable to the peasants. He also attacked the Maharashtra government for not doing anything to mitigate the drought situation in the region. Although Godavari and Girna rivers flow through the region, the government has failed to develop irrigation facilities, leaving the peasants to the vagaries of rainfall.
Mohd Salim, Nilotpal Basu, Mariam Dhawale, Ashok Dhawale, MLA Ozhare and local leader and former MLA J P Gavit also addressed the meeting. The CPI(M) is relatively less strong in Kalwan area when compared to the adjoining Surgana, the assembly seat regularly won by the Party. In the recent election, following delimitation, Surgana has been clubbed with Kalwan and a new assembly segment Kalwan-Surgana (ST) has been created. The Party has conducted militant struggles here on the issues relating to PDS, land rights to tribals, drought relief etc. The huge turnout for the public meeting was a reflection of the support for the struggles.
Earlier in the day, students and staff of the tribal Ashram residential higher secondary school run by the Party trust in Alungul village gave a warm reception to the jatha. The students lined up the road leading to the school to greet the jatha convoy.
The jatha would wind up its programme for the day with a public meeting in Nashik city today late evening.