MAHARASHTRA: Martyrs’ Day Actions in Thane-Palghar District Mobilise Thousands

Barkya Mangat

OCTOBER 10, 2017 was observed all over Thane-Palghar district as the 72nd Martyrs’ Day and also as the 21st death anniversary of the legendary leader of the Adivasi Revolt, former CPI(M) Central Committee member and former AIKS president, Comrade Godavari Parulekar. This day is observed every year in Thane-Palghar to renew the struggle.

It was on this day in 1945 that the police of the British regime, in collusion with the landlords, had fired on a gathering of over 30,000 adivasis and had killed five of them, including Comrade Jethya Gangad of Vevji village in Talasari tehsil. They were the first martyrs of the famed Adivasi Revolt in Thane district led by Comrades Shamrao Parulekar and Godavari Parulekar under the banner of the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha, which was formed at its first conference at Titwala on January 7, 1945.

Since that first firing in 1945, there have been 60 martyrs of the Red Flag in Thane-Palghar district, victims of successive Congress and BJP-led regimes. The last among them was the only woman martyr, Mathi Ozare of the AIDWA, who was stoned to death by BJP hoodlums while going home to her village Vasa in Talasari tehsil, only because she worked indefatigably for the CPI(M) in the zilla parishad elections in 2012.

Comrade Godavari Parulekar, who passed away on October 8, 1996, was cremated at Talasari on October 10, amidst tens of thousands of her beloved adivasis. The then AIKS president S Ramachandran Pillai and CITU leader Mohd Amin also bade her farewell.

LARGE ACTIONS

On that day, over 15,000 people, mainly adivasis, led by the CPI(M) and AIKS, held a series of actions in Vikramgad, Dahanu, Jawhar, Wada and Shahapur tehsils of Thane-Palghar district and one large meeting at Bhilad in Gujarat, just across the Maharashtra border. Adivasi women in their thousands participated in all these actions.

Taking into account the ensuing state assembly elections in Gujarat, it was decided by the Talasari tehsil committee in Maharashtra and the Umbargaon tehsil committee in Gujarat to hold the Bhilad public meeting jointly. Both the committees put in their best efforts to make this a 5,000-strong meeting. Talwada, the village where the firing in 1945 took place, just adjoins Bhilad. The tribals from this area were also a part of the Adivasi Revolt, when Gujarat and Western Maharashtra were part of the old Bombay state till 1960. In recent years, the CPI(M) in Thane-Palghar district has helped to revive the work in this area.

Those who addressed the Bhilad meeting were CPI(M) central secretariat member and newly-elected AIKS national president Dr Ashok Dhawale, AIKS Maharashtra state president Kisan Gujar, CPI(M) leaders in Gujarat Hasmukh Warli and Bharat Patel, DYFI Maharashtra leaders Vansha Dumada and Laxman Dombre, chairperson of the Talasari Tehsil Panchayat Samiti Savita Davre, chairperson of the Talasari Municipal Council Smita Valvi (both AIDWA leaders), while the meeting was chaired by CPI(M) Maharashtra state secretariat member and Thane-Palghar district secretary Barkya Mangat.

All the speakers came down heavily on the BJP governments at the centre and in both the states. The BJP became so nervous with the success of this Red Flag meeting, that it scheduled a meeting of the Gujarat chief minister at the same spot two days later!

At Vikramgad, another large rally of over 5,000 people gheraoed the office of the Panchayat Samiti for several hours, until they wrested their local demands. The action here was led by Ratan Budhar, Raja Gahala, Kiran Gahala, Amrut Bhavar, Chintu Kanhal, Tai Bendar and Prachi Hatiwlekar.

At Dahanu, a 3,500-strong rally marched to the tehsil office and refused to disperse until their local demands had been won. It was led by Edward Vartha, Radka Kalangda, Lahani Dauda, Vinod Nikole, Ramdas Sutar and Chandrakant Gorkhana.

At Jawhar, Wada and Shahapur, impressive public meetings were held.

Now preparations are on, as per the Party state committee decision, to make the Thane-Palghar district class at Comrade Godavari Shamrao Parulekar Bhavan in Talasari on October 30-31 a big success. 

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