Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

…more than courage it takes WILL to stand up against injustice !

Polepally Meeting Report

leave a comment »

For the past one week Polepally is witnessing all sorts of high level dramas. The sole purpose of all these dramas is to weaken and split the unity of agitating farmers by offering them petty gifts. Mr. Mallu Ravi the local MLA  and his karyakarthas are visiting Polepally everyday and are luring people with attractive offers.

Yesterday Polepally struggle committee had a meeting. Me, Madhu, Mr. Charles Wesley Meesa and Mr. Surender (Sharmika Shakti Sanghatan, Mahaboobnagar) attended the meeting.

Members of all caste groups in the affected villages joined the meeting. Interestingly, some young boys from youth organisations were also present.

They discussed about what is happening on the ground – with officials, within themselves for last one week.  Many farmers spoke about the MLA and officials visiting the village promising house pattas (deeds), money and also about their dharna (protest).  Women and men shared their  experiences from the day of patta distribution.  On 9th August, government officials came and put up a small tent that day even while it was raining heavily. Many farmers refused to take the pattas (land deeds). They did not even know what is written on these pattas. The villagers stopped their colleagues if anyone of them was tempted to take the pattas. Villagers argued with MRO and MLA and other middle-men.  By late evening, some displaced famrers, who are living outside the village started taking pattas. They are not much bothered about the consequences and are not actively engaged in the struggle.  The regular committee members and farmers stood united and refused the pattas till the end. But when it was almost night and the persuasion was strong, remaining farmers also signed and took the pattas.

But later they realized that the patta documents are in the name of APIIC. They decided to do a dharna (protest).  On dharna day, APIIC officials and the District Collector called a few farmers inside the collector’s office and they said they are not going to give more than Rs 50,000/- towards house construction.  Farmers were not allowed to speak. ‘Collectoramma’ (District Collector) lectured them. Villagers didn’t agree for the amount and they came out. After their protest, the APIIC officials also assured that they are going to issue another patta paper, with that they can own their pattas legally.  It’s also questionable, because the houses built in house sites within SEZ area cannot be sold. Do they have to sell back to APIIC?.  The house sites and houses promised come under the SEZ boundary wall.  Many of them are not even sure about the exact location of where these houses will be built.

Again the MLA came to village at midnight, which is his official time to visit Polepally telling the people that he came to inaugurate the new electric transformer.  He came with a typed paper in Telugu that says that villagers who have been fighting against the SEZ for past years are making an appeal to the MLA asking for Rs 100,000 towards their housing instead of the promise of Rs 60,000 that the district officials made. He came to collect the villagers’ signatures at midnight. Some of the villagers signed on that “appeal” without even knowing what it was.

I read out both Patta and that agreement paper. Villagers were surprised to know that it was villagers demand to have that amount for the housing and subsequently it was agreed by the government.  They also came to know without their signatures, photos accounts were opened on their name and the money is already deposited in the bank without even their knowledge and any effort of signing any papers for opening an account. How the banks also operate to open and close the bank accounts of government beneficiaries is revealed in this case!

Interestingly, around one crore rupees was put into Badepally Sangameswara Bank on the same night. It is not clear whether the APIIC deposited such a huge amount  or the district administration is not clear.

There was debate among the villagers on clarity about the promises officials are making whether it was assigned land again or a patta land? There was serious discussion on the politics they are playing to split the villagers, also about who is sucumbing to the MLA Mallu Ravi and who is going to fight for the justice. The farmers were openly sharing their feelings, their anger, depression and confusions.  At the end, after almost an hour, they decided to go collectively with the help of few people who are with them in all their struggles.

It was extremely educative and forward, looking at the meeting and the participants. It was inspiring because it concluded with clarity and clear action.  Polepally farmers were very focussed and didn’t divert from the issue, they only discussed how different people are trying to operate with different methods. Young boys spoke that the officials are trying to make them fools and that they are going to take part actively in future and see that all the members to join the struggle.  They do not allow any political party if they are not supporting their struggle against the SEZ.

Talking to them I informed how the struggle is viewed by friends from many places and also told them about the Blog on Polepally. I shared what was discussed with Balagopal and other friends after the Public Hearing and  varied suggestions that friends have on the agenda and strategy of the struggle. Told them how fraudulant the Indiramma housing scheme (the Government of Andhra Pradesh is undertaking) which is going on in any village and  all around the state is being shown as a special package of compensation or rehabilitation program. Explained them of the AP Level Network and South India level meetings.

Madhu Kagula proposed for a stronger committee which will address day to day struggle process.  Participants chose representatives who could spare time and are interested from each of the caste groups. The committee will take independent decisions, stand by their demands and carry out several mobilization activities like meetings and dharnas etc as well as work for legal and other forms of public opinion building.

They discussed for a while and came out with the names based on their participation and accessibility. Initially they thought of restricting to a small committee but then they opted for a larger committee so as to have greater participation and transparency.  The committee was formed by men and women from every community making it 36 names altogether. Madhu Kagula is elected Convener of the committee.  There was discussion of a solidarity committee. It was decided to have the Solidarity Committee with a few members who were associated with the struggle in some form or the other (Sujata, Mr. Balagopal, Mr. Bharath Bhushan, Mr. Jaya Prakash Telangana, Mr. Dileep).  It was decided to seek their consent also and convene a meeting of the committee and also take a few more members in the meeting with their inputs.

After me, Charles Wesley spoke of the struggle of Plachimada (coca cola) and how the company is stopped by the strong movement.

I gave them all the details of the accounts what we spend, from where money is mobilised.  I also requested the members, to check us if we are going against their wishes.  I asked them to open a bank account so that we can deposit any donations, which will be managed by the committee and will be operated jointly by three persons.

Finally we had photograph of committee members. I took snaps with the women members as I am proud that many men are also proposing women like Mogulamma, Chukkamma, Rangamma, Sathemma, Chandi, Shivli to be members of the committee. It was nice to find the village women play key role in the struggle and also to find so many sensible men who respect the women for their acts and abilities which one fails to see in the cities, offices, universities or the assembly.

The meeting ended on a good note. New spirit that they are not going to go back with all these politics and they are going to put some more efforts to take this movement forward.  Seeing lively how poor can be empowered with such process, how they are questioning officials, how they are demanding every new person of their agendas, demanding justice. Seeing these villagers who are giving sleepless nights to big officials and big Nethas (political leaders).

Committee members include : Chukkamma, Kandur Kurmaiah, Mala Jangilamma, Gajje Narsimlu, Gandham Yadaiah, Gandham Balaiah, Bandameedi Venkataiah, Nagoi, Balamma, Golla Ramulu, G. Ravinder Gound, B. Seenaiah Goud, Ramesh Goud, Kishta Naik, Chandi, Lachuram Naik, Dharma Naik, Jabbar, Ayya Saleem, Sathyam, Choti Bee, Anjamma, Rangamma, Mogulamma, Sankariah, Etti Lingaiah, Etti Yadaiah, Tepalli Yadaiah, Useni Sthemma, A. Srinivas, Gouramma, Katika Mahesh, Yetti Chinnappa, Kanduri Narsaiah, Katika Mahesh.

Local Address:

Polepally SEZ Vyatireka Committee

H.No. 1-66,

Polepally Village, Jadcherla Mandal,

Mahabubnagar – 509302, Andhra Pradesh (India)

Only one agenda together. Justice and only  Justice for the SEZ affected Polepally farmers !

Lets hope that these fighters will get justice soon.

Jai Telangana!

Sujatha Surepally

Advertisements

Written by Sujatha Surepally

August 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: