Senior tribal leader, Jayram Gamit, has been “mysteriously picked up” by the cops from Tapi district under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA Act) ahead of a major protest the organization he and another senior activist, Romel Sutariya of All India Union of Forest People has been working in the Tapi and Chotta Udeupur on the implementation of Forest rights Act and against the land mafia. The district collector, Ranjeet Kumar, arrested the tribal activist under the pressure of local ruling party politicians to arrest Gamit following their campaign against efforts to hand over large tracts of tribal land to non tribals, particularly those who were mining the area surrounding the river. Soon after his arrest, Gamit was taken toRajkot. Despite his alignment with the ruling party, he kept fighting for the rights of the tribal people, which became the major reason for his detention and arrest under PASA. The arrest has taken place following a forest department’s complaint to the police.” There is no word so far from theGujarat authorities about the arrest.
This is not for the first time that protesting activists in Gujarat are being picked as part of the “preventive” measure to stop any protests. Even those who do not plan protests are “picked up” when senior government functionary such as the chief minister visits an area. They are often put under house arrest or are detained ahead of apprehensions of protest. However, this is the first time in the recent past that an arrest has taken place under PASA, considered “draconian” by activists, and meant to be used against anti-social elements seeking to create disturbance.
Jeyram Gamit is one of the few tribal to get elected as Taluka panchayat member in Songarh, Tapi district. Due to the atrocities of Forest department the life of tribal people in Gujarat is miserable. Jeyram was also beaten up many times by forest dept goons, it was than he decided to stand for election to build his political power. The entire FD is afraid of his leadership and has been looking for an opportunity to book him in some or the other false case.
on 31st Dec 2014, in village ojhar, Songarh, District Tapi when few Adivasis were levelling thier land on which they filed claim under Forest Rt Act (FRA). The Ranger and forester came with JCB and stopped the work and started beating tribals. False cases were filed on the tribal and they molested the tribal women. When tribals protested against this, there was an altercation between tribal and forest department. One lady forester who was deputed there made a false allegation against jeyram and booked him under anti social activities. He was also booked for instigating tribals to take up arms. The whole conspiracy was done by FD in connivance with the District Administration and police to book Jeyram so that he does not organize tribals in the region with other young activist Romel Sutaria of Adivasi Kisan Sangarsh Morcha and All India Union of Forest Working Union.
Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM) has called the arrest “anti-constitutional and unprovoked”.
The All-India Forest Workers’ Union’s Gen Sect Ashok choudhary and Dy Gen sect Roma have strongly condemned this arrest and has said union will launch a nation wide protest to release Jeyram gamit.
A fact finding is needed in this matter and lot of support is needed from the other social movements to help release of Jeyram Gamit and strengthen the people’s movement in Gujarat. Though it is boasted a lot by our PM that Gujarat is number one in development the other side is that the tribal and dalit are the most oppressed in this state. Their basic rights are denied. The FRA is not implemented in true spirits in the forest area of Gujarat.