12th August, 2023 witnessed a horrific and shameful attack on the ideas and values of Gandhi, Vinoba and Jayprakash Narayan by this fascist regime. Sarva Seva Samiti, situated in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, which has been active in the last 6 decades, fostering democratic ideals was brutally bulldozed by the BJP Govt. The Samiti campus consisting of more than 10 thousand progressive books, which preserved a remarkable history of the country, was razed to the ground.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its Order dated 7th August, 2023 had directed the lower court to conduct the hearing expeditiously. Despite being pending in the court, the process of demolition started at 6 am on 12th Aug morning without any competent order.
On 11th August, 2023, a large public protest meeting was organized in which representatives of people’s organizations from all over India and hundreds of common citizens of Banaras were also present. The meeting was addressed by many well-known leaders and activists including Prof. Anand Kumar, Rakesh Tikait, Medha Patkar, Yogendra Yadav, Faisal Khan, Dr. Sunilam, Feroze Mithiborewala etc. The meeting challenged the ruthless bulldozer policy of the Govt, be it in UP or Haryana, especially targeting muslims and also raised the issue of illegal occupation of lands of fisherpeople and other marginalized communities in the name of ‘development’.
We see this overnight action of demolition by the government, right after the huge public meeting as a deliberate attempt to suppress public voices.
Throughout yesterday 10 activists from various civil society groups and organizations opposing the demolition were arbitrarily detained and let off late in the night.
The Sarva Seva Samiti played an important role in strengthening the Indian progressive ideas. Hence, this should be seen as an attack by the present ruling party on the ideas that strengthen Indian democracy.
Besides, there are concerns that the Government plans to hand over this land to capitalists in the name of ‘Railways’.
National Alliance of People’s Movements strongly condemns this unconstitutional, subversive activity by the BJP Government. We demand that this demolition of Sarvaseva Samiti be stopped immediately, the buildings must be restored back to their original form and the said land must not be given out for any capitalist ventures. The Govt. must be held accountable for its unlawful actions of demolition and related arbitrary detentions, in violation of judicial orders.
Issued by: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)