In an unusual turn of events, top farmers’ body, Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), which had planned a 14-day motorbike rally from South Gujarat’s Bhilad to North Gujarat’s Amirgadh starting on November 17, has been denied permission to pass through Surat district. “We were told by that they don’t have enough cops to handle the bike rally”, Sagar Rabari, general secretary on the non-political farmers’ organization told Counterview.
Insisting that KSG would continue with its rally, which will start at 9.00 am, come what may, Rabari said, “If they wish, they can detain us. All that they need is a police jeep to along with the motorbike rally. If they want to detain us along with our motorbikes, they would need several police vehicles. They have got staff and heavy vehicles for that!”
Rabari, while announcing the decision to take out the farmers’ motorbike rally for about 2000 km, had told newspersons on Wednesday that the KSG would campaign for voting against the BJP, whose policies have been “anti-farmer.” He had said, the “pro-industry” government was forcing farmers to part with their prime farm land in the name of development.
Protesting against the state administration behaving in a “high-handed” manner despite the fact that it is not under the state BJP rule but is under the Election Commission of India (ECI), Rabari said, “We demand that the ECI should immediately act and ensure that permission for our rally is given.”
Meanwhile, KSG president Jayesh Patel, who proposes to lead the rally, has written a letter to chief electoral officer, ECI, Gujarat State, BB Swain, saying, “Under the pretext of election, every right is being denied in Gujarat”, even as seeking his “urgent intervention”.
The letter says that KSG has organised statewide motorbike rally to make farmers aware their “democratic rights” ahead of the Gujarat state assembly elections, even as educating them about “how to exercise their vote to achieve good, people friendly governance.”
“As per the prevailing rule of law, we applied for permission to all concerned district/taluka officers. We wrote the same letter to the Surat district magistrate on Novembrr 15, 2017. In response the district magistrate denied permission citing a government order No 464/INST/2014/EPS dated April 10, 2017.”
“We have gone through the above order and find nothing in it that restricts people to express their right to express their grievances, organize rally or public meetings for awareness”, Patel said, adding, thr refusal to give permission “indicates police’s partial role and negligence to peoples’ rights.”
“The only reason one can assume is, being administered by one party for long, the police machinery has become part of the misdeeds of the ruling political establishment, doesn’t want any change in government to save its interests, and is seeking to hide its misdeeds. If such is the case, how can people trust that the elections would be fair and just?”
Asking ECI to grant permission “to carry on our declared programme”, Patel demanded the immediately transfer the concerned officer who has misinterpreted ECI instruction and misused the letter to deny permission. He regretting, “We sent SMS to you and the nodal police officer to intervene but there was no response, hence this letter...”
A copy of the letter has been forwarded to the Gujarat High Court chief justice.