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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dalit woman sarpanch who ‘stands against’ BJP politicians sent to jail

 main entrance of Lakhvad village, around 3-4 kilometres from Mehsana
A dalit woman sarpanch from Lakhvad village of Mehsana district, Kamla Makwana, her husband, their son and two others were arrested late Tuesday on the basis of a recent complaint of breach of trust and criminal intimidation lodged by former deputy sarpanch Ratilal Patel. They were later sent to Mehsana district jail after a local magisterial court rejected their bail petitions. 

She had reportedly filed multiple complaints of harassment against her predecessor from locally dominant Patel community, Prahlad Patel, and his then deputy, Ratilal Patel. Both Ratilal and Prahlad allegedly didn't want to let Kamla function as the village Sarpanch. 

Following the arrest, the jailed woman sarpanch now wants to resign after getting fed up of the harassment she has been subjected to by her predecessors, sources said. 

Kamla was elected as the sarpanch of Lakhvad Gram Panchayat in January last year under the Gujarat government's Samras Yojna where instead of electing, villagers are selecting the sarpanch and other members of the gram panchayat. However, she allegedly started facing harassment at the behest of Prahald who was the Sarpanch of the village before her. 

She made a number of complaints to different authorities like the district development officer, state Human Rights Commission and local police. The complaints include evidence to prove that Prahlad had been misusing the old letterheads of the gram panchayat and issuing various certificates to the villagers while forging Kamla's signature. She also lodged two complaints against Prahald and Ratilal under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
However, on April 3, Ratilal Patel, who was deputy sarpanch in the village when Prahald was sarpanch, lodged a criminal complaint against Kamla, her husband Kachra Makwana, son Bharat, and two friends — Bharat Patel and Ramila Patel — with Mehsana taluka police station. 

According to the complaint, the Makwanas wanted to get loan of Rs 1.80 lakh from the Scheduled Caste Development Corporation to buy a rickshaw in 2004. And Ratilal — under the recommendation of Bharat Patel and Ramila Patel — had become a guarantor for the same on the basis of one of his land pieces. He alleges that the Makwanas assured him of paying regular instalments for the loan. 

However, the Makwanas alleges Ratilal did not pay the instalments for the loan and in 2013 when he asked them to pay it so that the government dues on his land could be cleared, they allegedly threatened him and did not pay the amount. Ratilal has accused the Makwanas and Patels of breach of trust, criminal intimidation and abetment. 

On Tuesday, Sub-Inspector of Mehsana taluka police station, D K Rathod, reportedly asked the five to get their statements recorded in the case and when they went to police, the five were arrested and produced before a magisterial court. Immediately, their advocate, Jayanti Parmar, moved bail petitions. However, Parmar said the petitions were rejected, following which they were sent to Mehsana district jail. 

Kamla's younger son, Manoj (22), and his wife Sonal, are now the only members of the family out. "This entire case has been fabricated to harass my mother as she did not agree to be a puppet in the hands of Prahlad Patel after being elected Sarpanch. The entire state machinery of Mehsana is working against us at the behest of Prahlad who openly boasts closeness to some top politicians in the Gujarat government," Manoj said. 

However, Ratilal denied the allegations and said, "I had mortgaged my land to the Scheduled Caste Development Corporation for this family to buy a rickshaw. They did not pay the instalments of the loan for nine years. And if they do not pay the instalment, it is possible that my land is auctioned by the state government. I asked them repeatedly to pay the amount and when they did not do so, I had to file the complaint." 

The investigation officer in the case, S I Rathod, said the police have acted completely on the merits of the case. Manoj met his mother in jail Wednesday. "She is very disturbed and has decided to resign from the post. She told me that it is better to live a peaceful life than to indulge in public life," he said.

(courtesy: Indian Express, 18 April, 2013)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dalit Mahila Sarpanch is in jail

Dalit Mahila Sarpanch of Lakhvad (Mehsana) is in jail along with her six relatives, because she dared to challenge former BJP sarpanch. How dalits can tolerate such injustice?  Kamla Makwana was elected uncontested under the Samras Yojna of the state government. She had lodged a complaint with the District Development Officer (DDO) alleging that her predecessor has been harassing her due to her caste and forging her signature to issue various certificates on the letterhead of the panchayat with impunity.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our first and foremost priority

Our first and foremost priority is to protect our people from atrocity,
Do not JUST SMS to your friends,
Do not JUST forward the message,
Do not JUST post on face book,
Do not JUST call a meeting and cry collectively,
Do not JUST spit your venom on imaginary so-called manuvadi enemies,
Do not JUST light a candle and join a silent protest,
Do not JUST write a poem or an article in a dalit magazine,
Do not JUST collect donation and sit on it,


Go to that village with an advocate or a person with legal knowledge, meet our people, sit with them and guide them how to write a complaint to DSP, district magistrate, DDO, TDO, social welfare mantralay, file FIR if it has not been filed, verify the facts and monitor the police investigation whether it is on right track or not, teach them how to approach government offices and get their complaints filed with signature on OC, next day follow up the matter with local youth and see that the fight concludes with its logical end. And in this process organize and agitate them.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dalit Woman Sarpanch of Gujarat ‘harassed’ by BJP predecessor

Kamla Makwana, a dalit woman sarpanch of Lakhvad village in Mehsana district who was elected uncontested under the Samras Yojna of the state government, has lodged a complaint with the District Development Officer (DDO) alleging that her predecessor has been harassing her due to her caste and forging her signature to issue various certificates on the letterhead of the panchayat with impunity.

Incidentally, the ruling BJP is celebrating April 14 as the Samrasta Divas (Harmony Day).

Following Makwana's complaint, Mehsana DDO has sent the certificate allegedly signed by the former sarpanch, Prahald Patel, to the district police for verification by handwriting expert.

Makwana, in her early fifties, was elected uncontested as sarpanch of Lakhvad Gram Panchayat on January 18 last year. Under the Samras Yojna, the panchayat consisted of women only.

"Right from the day I was elected Sarpanch, Prahald Patel, who is at present a delegate at the Mehsana Taluka Panchayat from BJP, started harassing me on the ground of my caste. In fact, they did not allow me to sit in the Sarpanch office in the beginning. It was only after intervention of police and other authorities that I could sit in the office," Makwana said.

"However, my harassment continued at the behest of Patel. Recently, we came across a caste/income certificate signed in my name as sarpanch and issued to a local. When we asked the person concerned, he told us Patel had issued him the certificate on the letterhead of the Gram Panchayat while forging my signature as sarpanch," she added.

On April 1, Makwana made a representation (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) before the DDO. She has also attached a copy of the affidavit by the person whom Patel allegedly gave the caste/income certificate.

DDO H N Thakkar said, "I have sent it to district superintendent of police for verification by a handwriting expert. If Makwana's claim is found true, we will take necessary legal action against responsible person(s)."

The officer said Makwana's problem regarding taking charge of the office had been resolved and she was given police protection.

Patel could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. 

(Indian Express, 12 April, 2013)