Ahmedabad, Oct 27: Posters depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ were being torn or blackened by tribals who oppose the unveiling of the statue in Gujarat’s Narmada district, an official said on Saturday.
Across the district, 90 per cent of the posters depicting Modi, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and of the event were being either torn or blackened.
“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,” said Prafull Vasava, a tribal leader.
“The authorities have replaced the torn posters with new ones and kept them guarded by the police. This might be the first time anywhere in the world that even posters of a Prime Minister have to be guarded by the police.
“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.
Around 75,000 tribals affected by the ‘Statue of Unity’ project are expected to oppose the unveiling slated for October 31 by staging a bandh.
Some 100 small and big tribal organisations across the state have backed the bandh.
“Right from Banaskantha to the Dang district, nine tribal districts will be joining us in the agitation. And the ‘Bandh’ will not only be limited to schools, offices or commercial establishments, but households will be observing a ‘fast’ (no cooking),” Vasava said.
“No food will be cooked in 72 villages affected by the entire project, as we will be mourning the project which is being carried out for our destruction,” added Vasava.
According to tradition, food is not cooked in a tribal village when they mourn the dead.
“Our rights as tribals are being violated by the government. We don’t have anything against the great son of Gujarat, Sardar Patel and his honour should be maintained. We are not against the development even, but this project is against us,” added Vasava.
Located in the mountain range of Satpura and Vindhyanchal, about 100 km from Vadodara, the world’s tallest statue will be inaugurated by Modi on October 31, marking the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel (1875-1950).