The Ahmedabad Police have arrested 5,000 farmers during a peaceful rally protesting the sanction of a cement factory in the Mahuva area of Bhavnagar that would spoil land and water resources for over 10,000 local farmers.
Among those arrested are veteran Gandhian and founder of Gujarat Loksamiti, 92-year-old Chunikaka Vaidya, Member of Legislative Assembly from Mahuva, Kanubhai Kalsaria, and former Finance Minister of Gujarat, Sanatbhai Mehta.
The farmers were enroute to the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram to sign a petition in their own blood
and begin a march toward Gandhinagar to meet the government when Ahmedabad police brought in the patty wagons and rounded up protesters. Many were released shortly after being detained, but prevented from marching onward to meet the State ministers responsible for granting the cement factory the green light.
In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, news coverage of this story has been scant, mostly because the press is largely inept, corrupt, or both. Years ago when working on IndiaGuide : Gujarat, I witnessed this first hand.
We met with a State official largely regarded as Narendra Modi’s right-hand man in order to share progress on the guidebook and expand access to state archival pictures and resources. Immediately after our meeting, a well-known reporter who was the Ahmedabad correspondent for India Today came in to the office. Before we even left, he began taking dictation on a story handed down from the Chief Minister in what would even make Fox News’ dittoing of press releases from the GOP look fair and balanced.
Most Gandhians aren’t up-to-date on Hollywood blockbusters, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of response the press would have if 10,000 people painted themselves blue
and allowed the police to club them down during the march. They wouldn’t even need peacock feathers in their hair to send the right message, perhaps finally revealing the nature of Modi to his religious right-wing supporters. After all, before Krishna was a Prince of Dwarka, he was a cowherd not much unlike these simple farmers!