Monday, June 29, 2009

Protesting to Shine and have Light

I visited Malibari, the little village that I have taken up to develop, already three times in June. The first time I went I asked the caretaker Mr. George to look for a cook, and clean the place. The second time when I visited after a week on 20 June, I found that he had cleansed some of the rooms, and not the undergrowth that had become almost a jungle in the courtyard. And that day I had a long meeting with some 60 odd men and women--mostly tribals, with some Muslim and Hindu Bengali speaking communities from the neighbouring villages, speaking to them of the basics of modern development. The basics are down to three letters : BSP - Bijli, Sadak, Paani (which means : Electricity, Road and Safe Drinking Water). The village has no road, no electricity, no other communication systems, no health facilities, no drainage or sanitary systems, and of course no proper drinking water. With all such mammoth problems, it is the biggest hunting ground for me to challenge the forces of power and exploitation.

At the meeting on 20 June, we formed a small committee that would take our case to the administration. And it was decided that we would wake up, and show that we would like to protest the Gandhian way : Fast for a Day. We wished to do it in our village. We didn't want to do it in front of any of the office buildings for the reason that if the politicians can come to villages asking for votes, if they can reach polio vaccines from house to house so that no rich child is affected along with the poorer ones, then the Government can also come to the villages to hear the problems of the people.

On 27 June, we did a fast under a couple of large jackfruit trees (for those who who do not know: yes, jackfruits grow on large trees), raising slogans. Almost about 150 men, women and children turned up, and about 100 of us stayed put under the tree. I too remained with the people, lying on a plastic sheet that had been hired, in my lungi and a T-shirt, like any other ordinary villager. When the police and some of the lower rung government officials came, the people took care of them! They received the choicest of words (no abuse, but protests), and the government officials were forced to say that they would take some action within 15 days. The people had simply to say this : should we stay in dark even after 62 years of independence? Should any one? But that's how government's run. That's how people are kept in dark : in the darkness of illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, and in hunger. It is time to wake up. It is time for the tigers to roar!

N.B. : More action by people will follow in the coming weeks. Meanwhile some of the government officials are going around questioning why have these people woken up suddenly, and demanding that they get their rights within a very short period, where as for the last 20 years these people had never protested. They do not know that a leader has entered.

1 comment:

Ryan M.D. said...

I really enjoyed your e-mail/ blogpost Father. I had no idea that people are still deprived of the essentials of life.
I realize that we have it really easy where others in your area work hard just to be noticed.

I will pray for your mission and the new tasks you have taken on.