Assam – CSD Statement on the arrest of Akhil Gogoi and the struggle against construction of dams

May 24, 2012

Note from Campaign for Survival and Dignity

After sending the below, we received information that Akhil Gogoi was arrested at around 3 am this morning from the site of the hunger strike and many KMSS supporters were lathi charged. He has been forcibly hospitalised but is resisting forcefeeding. Meanwhile when KMSS members protesting in Guwahati were lathi charged, and more than 20 people have been seriously injured. Road blockades and other protests are now taking place across the state.

Earlier Note –

Today, in Assam, the indefinite hunger strike of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi entered its fifth day. This marks a key moment in one of the largest mass struggles for people’s rights in the country today. Till date there is no reaction whatsoever from the government to the KMSS’ democratic demand for a halt to the construction of dams in the State and to atrocities on those protesting against them. Most of these dams are coming up in total violation of law, without compliance with the procedures for forest clearance, environmental clearance and without respecting people’s rights over forest land. The dams threaten the livelihoods of lakhs of people and pose a serious risk of future natural disasters that could claim the lives of tens of thousands more. When people have opposed the construction of these dams, they have faced beatings, tear gas and police firings. The KMSS’ decision to call the indefinite hunger strike was also driven by opposition to these atrocities.

The KMSS’ peaceful struggle for people’s resource rights has mobilised lakhs of people. In the last few years their protests have engulfed the entire State. But for our state machinery these things matter little. Indeed, in Maharashtra, the same system and the same forest officials who (among others) broke the law in Assam have now given themselves the power to kill people with impunity (in the name of “shoot on sight orders” against “poachers”). This blatantly unconstitutional order will lead to killings of local adivasis and forest dwellers, who will never even be given the basic right to a trial. Whether it is in the name of sham “development” or in the name of dictatorial “conservation”, the same bureaucracy and ruling class seizes power and resources, trampling roughshod over the rights of the people. The struggle is on for real democracy in this country.