Statue of Unity: Tribals Tear, Blacken PM Narendra Modi Face On Posters of ‘Ekta Yatra’
Local tribal villages are opposing the Statue of Unity project as many have been displaced without adequate compensation.
Angered tribals have torn down and blackened posters with PM Narendra Modi’s face in Narmada district in Gujarat. The posters had come up all over the state following the PM’s announcement of taking out an ‘Ekta Yatra’ to celebrate the completion of Statue of Unity.
“This is clearly a sign of how the tribal community is dissenting against the BJP. They have taken away our land, the most valuable resource a tribal has, to carry out the so called development,” Prafull Vasava, a tribal leader, told news agency IANS.
“Tribal communities from Narmada have been opposing this project since 2010, but now the entire tribal belt in the state is against it,” he added.
Reportedly, at least 22 sarpanchs from the villages around the statue wrote a letter to PM Modi, urging him not to unveil the statue on October 31. The letter read, “When we are still struggling to avail basic infrastructural facilities for schools, hospitals and drinking water, you decide to spend crores of rupees for the construction of a statue and now again for the inaugural event. With a heavy heart, all of us villagers are telling you that we won’t welcome you on our land in our district.”
The letter also said that during the course of such “ambitious developmental projects”, “land-farm, water and forest that are the natural elements worth worshipping” for the tribals, get exploited.
Govind Tadvi, sarpanch of Waghadia village in Kevadiya Colony, told IE, “Many villagers were displaced when the Narmada Dam was constructed and now for the statue. From our village 100 per cent land have been acquired for the project. The administration offered us compensation of Rs 7.5 lakh, but we refused to accept it. No amount of money can compensate the hard work put into building a house and returns that a farmland can produce in a lifetime. Outsiders have been called to set up stalls, while our source of livelihoods are destroyed in the name of development.”
After the posters with PM Modi’s face were torn, the state government replaced them with posters carrying an image of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda, reported The Indian Express.
The new posters now have comparatively smaller pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and the Statue of Unity, but have a large image of Munda.
However, even the new banners were found torn and blackened with only Birsa Munda’s image left intact.
Last week, a local tribal organisations had said as many as 75,000 tribals would oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments, both in the state and at the Centre, and stage a massive protest on the day of unveiling of the statue scheduled for October 31.