People's Democracy,Vol. XXX, No. 45,November 05, 2006
The mass uprising in Sriganganagar demanding 58 per cent quantum of irrigation water as agreed upon by the BJP government of Rajasthan has witnessed the militant participation of women in every phase of the struggle. An AIDWA delegation that visited Sriganganagar on October 25 found that women who have been fighting for their rights along with the other sections have had to face inhuman attacks by the police. The team led by All India general secretary, Sudha Sundararaman along with state president Sumitra Chopra, state treasurer Pushpa Sharma, vice president Gomathi Shakya, joint secretary Tara Ghayal and other committee members met the Rajasthan AIDWA general secretary Durga Swamy in the hospital where she has been kept under police custody after having suffered grievous injuries at the hands of the police. The recounting of her experience and reports of other women being targeted bring out graphically the scale of barbaric repression that has been let loose by the BJP government on the people. The state committee decided to take it up seriously and moreover it was resolved that the AIDWA would petition the NCW and the Human Rights Commission to intervene immediately on this blatant violation of human rights. The following resolution was passed by AIDWA after the team’s visit.
THE AIDWA condemns the inhuman and barbaric assault by police on innocent protestors of Ghadsana district of Rajasthan, whose only crime was that they were demanding that the BJP government should honour its own assurance on provision of sufficient irrigation water to this region. It is shocking that in a state which is headed by a woman, where the governor is also a woman and in Sriganganagar, where both the SP and the deputy SP are women, poor women agriculturists were beaten up in such a brutal manner.
The people were not spared even during festival days of Diwali and Id. Though there was a curfew in force, the police on the pretext of searching for accused, barged into houses destroying property and beating up people. This time, they surpassed their cruelty and targeted children and old women as well.
On October 20, a day before Diwali, at daybreak, the police entered village 17KD, Gharsana, barged into 12 year old Anu's house and demanded to see her father. When she said her father was not home, a policeman hit her on the head with a lathi. They hit her mother also. There were no women police barring the deputy SP who was leading the police team.
They burst tear gas shells on the unsuspecting villagers. One 70 year old Bishnoi lady, Kalavati, took the full brunt of a tear gas shell on her chest. 55 year old Girdawari Devi was hit by a rubber bullet on her palm. A three month pregnant woman, Anju suffered a miscarriage due to the shock of the police action. Hearing the tear gas shells, she ran inside her house and due to her abrupt movements and the shock of the police presence, she began to bleed heavily. One of the men beaten up by the police lost his life a few days later, but the administration has callously refused to accede to the demand for compensation, leading to further tension in the area.
Just a few days earlier, on October 16, during a protest meeting in Ghadsana where large numbers of women were present, the police personnel (including Rajasthan Armed Constables and the Special Task Force) lathi charged the farmers beating up women as well. Several hundred farmers sustained fractures and head injuries. The police targeted the leaders including Durga Swamy, state secretary, AIDWA. They beat her up in full public view. She was hit on the head and her hair was ripped apart. The SP was heard instigating the police to beat up the farmers. The state vice president of AIDWA, 55 year old Gomti Shakya was also not spared. She received lathi blows as she attempted to protect Durga Swamy. The AIDWA delegation that visited Durga in hospital found that even 10 days after the beating, the bruises are still painful, and the head wound has not yet healed.
This outrageous series of police assaults has to stop. AIDWA demands that there should be stiff action against the IG as well as the rest of the administration that was part of the police action. We also demand the transfer of the SP and the DM and compensation for all those who have been injured. The BJP government should stop this repression and instead immediately move towards safeguarding the livelihood of thousands of poor peasants of this region. We resolve to support the continuing struggle on this issue.