Date – 10th August, 2008
Dow Chemicals Quit India
The notorious Dow chemicals was given a final call to quit India by thousands of warkaris who had gathered at a protest meeting on 9th August, 2008 at Dehu village, the birth place of Jagadguru Saint Tukaram Maharaj.
The villagers of Shinde-Vasuli and the surrounding villages have been fighting against the proposed plant of the notorious Dow Chemicals at Shinde. The construction work has been stopped by the villagers since 16th January, 2008.
The peaceful yet militant struggle led by Lokshasan Andolan has in the past 7 months seen many ups and downs. The democratically elected government both in the state and in the centre, has been consistently working for the vested interests of the notorious Dow Chemicals instead of safeguarding the life and property of its citizens which is its mandatory duty. It is because of this bias policy of the rulers in favour of the chemical company that the common grazing land of the village was handed over to the Dow Chemicals without taking any permission of the village panchayat. The company was given go-ahead without fulfilling the mandatory conditions as per the rules and regulations. The govt. for the sake of resuming the construction of the notorious Dow Chemicals has always tried to sabotage, suppress the peaceful and non-violent agitation of Lokshan Andolan led “Bhamchandra Dongar Bachao Warkari Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti” under the leadership of Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil and Com. Vilas Sonawane.
On 27th February, 08, Govt. through its massive police force tried to forcibly restart the construction work of the notorious Dow Chemicals violating the basic human rights of the villagers. To this villagers especially the women of Shinde retaliated by taking around 300 police personnel virtually as hostage. The police had to further mobilize force and finally in the midnight at around 1.30 am had arrested 143 villagers including 69 women and 16 children. Inspite of the terror tactics employed by the administration, the villagers of Shinde and of the entire Bhamchandra panchakroshi (area) strengthened their resolve to fight for their existence and oppose the notorious Dow company tooth and nail.
On 24th July, under the garb of an interim order from the Hon’ble High Court of Mumbai, the authorities in the name of protecting the property of the company (which was never disturbed by the villagers) and the life of their officials (who had hardly come at the site) tried to tried to terrorise the people and resume the construction of the company.
Since, the coming of the Dow chemicals in Shinde village is not only going to endanger the human, animal or plant life in the village or the panchakroshi, it is bound to endanger the life of the warkari sampraday who come in large numbers to the Dehu (which is 5 km from the site), Alandi (which is about 15 km from the site), it had become a matter of life and death for the warkari sampraday (sect). The warkaris had been continuously supporting the agitation led by Lokshasan Andolan and its constituent organizations like Yuva Bharat and Adivasi Hakk Abhiyan. On 23rd March, 08 on the 400th centenary year of Jagadguru Saint Tukaram Maharaj, the prominent warkari kirtankars, pravachankars and the leaders of the sect took an unanimous decision to throw Dow chemicals not only from the land of the saints but also from the country. Accordingly, since then, the warkaris have been actively supporting this struggle and they carried the propaganda amongst the common warkaris through their kirtans and pravachans.
Protection of one’s life and property is the fundamental right of human being and nobody has any right to deny it. The responsibility of protecting this fundamental right to live is enshrined to the government. If the govt. does not take this responsibility then the people have every right to assert their right and protect the sacred land. Hence the warkaris, who had been strongly supporting this agitation were discontented with the ruling class’ approach of serving the imperialist masters. The things had precipitated to such an extent that in Pandharpur, the warkaris wanted to stop even the chief minister who does the official pooja at Vithal Mandir during Ashadi Ekadashi from performing the pooja unless and until the govt. declared the withdrawal of Dow’s project from the sant bhoomi. This was an early warning given to the shameless rulers to rectify their misdeeds of endangering the life and property of the people living the panchakroshi.
However, the ruling class has become the subservient partners of the imperialists hence instead of understanding the feelings of the warkaris and pacifying the sentiments of the warkaris continued to implement the agenda of the notorious Dow Chemicals. This was enough for the warkaris to act as per the teachings of their revered saints like Jagadguru Saint Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. Taking inspiration from Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj the warkaris took the responsibility of destroying the construction work of the Dow Chemicals and on 25th July, 08 under the leadership of Banda Tatya Maharaj Karadkar, a renowned Kirtankar of Maharashtra completely destroyed the construction of the notorious Dow Chemicals.
On 9th August, 08 this protest meeting was organized at Dehu village the birthplace of Saint Tukaram Maharaj. Around 30,000 warkaris, peasants, villagers of the surrounding districts of Solapur, Osmanabad, Latur, Satara, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane, Mumbai had gathered on this occasion. These warkaris and peasants have been fighting the imperialists policies like SEZs and other projects of land grabbing. On this occasion, Badrinath Tanpure Maharaj explained the position of the warkari tradition vis-à-vis Dow Chemicals. He pointed out that the Dow Chemicals which has been rejected by many countries had no business to come here and the govt. should not have entertained this company. Inspite of this Dow Chemicals was brought here by the govt. to destroy the warkari sampraday. Warkari sampraday is known for its tolerance. But tolerance does not submission to injustice. Hence as per the teachings of the sampraday, the warkaris had to fight for the existence of the warkaris and peasants. Com. Vilas Sonawane, working President of Lokshasan Andolan explained the ongoing seven month long agitation against the Dow Chemicals. He pointed out that the water of the surrounding region going towards Solapur is already polluted and is unfit for drinking. The coming up of the Dow Chemicals, considering its past history is bound to affect the entire region thereby endangering the lives of the warkaris and peasants. The Dow Chemicals and its stooges namely the ruling class deliberately are trying to bring this plant at Shinde which is adjacent to Dehu. He exposed the fraudulent methods of the company and the govt. in bringing this plant at Shinde. The Dehu-Alandi area is a centre of warkari sampraday (sect) and has a long tradition of resistance against inequality and injustice. He pointed out that on one hand, the govt. had declared development fund for the Dehu, Alandi, Bhandara and Ghorada the pilgrim centers but they have deliberately excluded Bhamchandra Dongar from it to bring Dow Chemicals. He demanded that the development fund that has been sanctioned should be increased and Bhamchandra Dongar should also be included.
Satinath Sarangi who had come from Bhopal and has devoted his entire life in the struggle for justice to the victims of Bhopal Gas genocide congratulated the warkaris for destroying the construction work of Dow Chemcials. He pointed out that the Dow Chemicals has a criminal track record. It was forced to give compensation to the American people. However, it has always adopted the policy of duplicity. It took over the Union Carbide Corparation but has refused to give compensation to the victims. He said that for the past 24 years they had been continuosly fighting for justice but one great action of the warkaris has made a tremendous positive impact to the movement. He quoted the famous hindi phrase “Sau Sonar Ki Ek Lohar Ki!”
Justice Kolse-Patil, President of Lokshasan Andolan who had been spearheading this agitation appealed the warkaris to bring into practice the teachings of the saints. He said that for the seven months Lokshasan Andolan has exposed the fraudulent and notorious history of Dow Chemicals, it has also exposed the fraudulent methods employed in bringing this plant. Inspite of this the govt. authorities have been forcing this plant on Shinde. He challenged the authorities to bring forward the any one positive aspect of the Dow chemicals and convince the agitating people about it only then the Lokshasan Andolan would think about withdrawing the agitation.
Banda Tatya Maharaj Karadkar pointed out publicly that he had destroyed the construction of the company and all his colleagues who had destroyed this plant were present in the public meeting. He challenged the police authorites to arrest them. He said that the act of 25th July,08 may not be as per the traditions of the Sampraday, but it is definitely as per the teachings and philosophy of the warkari sampraday. On this occasion he sang a song on Bhagat Singh and said that when the question of motherland comes, then like Shaheed Bhagat Singh everyone has to take decision and act accordingly. He assured to the warkaris that the project of Dow Chemicals was gone. The authorities cannot at any cost start that project. He reiterated that the struggle shall not end with Dow Chemicals. He pledged before the gathering that he would fight alongwith Lokshasan Andolan against the imperialist policies like SEZs and other land grabbing projects.
On this occasion, Sandipan Maharaj Hasegaonkar of Satara, Bapusaheb More of Dehu Sansthan, Rajabhau Chopdar of Alandi Sansthan and other prominent warkaris expressed their solidarity to the agitation.
Sachin Shinde, President of Vyasan Mukt Yuvak Sangh conducted the meeting.
The public meeting ended with slogans of “Dow Chemicals Bharat Chodo” i.e. Dow Chemical Quit India and “Dow Hatao Desh Bachao”.
National Convenor – Yuva Bharat