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Press Statement 500 political prisoners to go on a one day hunger strike for an independent Vidharbha

This is a translation of a handwritten press note in Marathi from 500 political prisoners in Nagpur Jail. The prisoners will be going on a one day hunger strike in Nagpur jail in support of the demand for independent statehood for Vidarbha on 09 December 2013.

For the past 60 years the ‘Nagpur agreement’ has been openly torn up [by the state] and the sovereign loot of Vidharbha’s water, forests, land, electricity, coal and other mineral wealth continues unabated. Therefore there is no other solution except independent statehood for Vidarbha. In support of the slogan “Vidarbha must be independent” 500 prisoners including 15 female prisoners will go on a one day hunger strike in the Nagpur Central Jail on 09 December 2013.

In 1953 in order to integrate Vidarbha and Marathwada regions [another economically depressed region of the state] into the state of Maharashtra the ‘Nagpur agreement’ was signed which promised to address equitable development of the region. Far from implementing the ‘Nagpur agreement’, the greedy and rapacious plunderers of western Maharashtra have appropriated the resources that were pledged to the region. The regulations, [development] packages and concessions for Vidarbha have turned out to be dust thrown in the eyes of the people of Vidarbha. The dreams of the people of Vidarbha for equitable development have been dashed to the ground therefore.  Consequently suicides by farmers, starvation deaths of adivasi [indigenous] mothers and children, caste and sexual attacks on dalit [marginalised castes] women, load shedding [electricity], unemployment and crime have increased exponentially.

Every year one state legislative assembly session is conducted in Nagpur [the regional capital]. But the sessions are drowned in confusion [of debates] and boycotts [of sessions by legislators]. The representatives deliberately act in that way to promote petty party politics. The people of Vidarbha are convinced that it will be impossible for them to achieve equitable development within the integrated state of Maharashtra.
The Congress government [the ruling coalition in the Centre] which has announced independent statehood for Telangana [a depressed region in neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh] is silent about the much older (108 years old) demands of Vidarbha. Their stance on Vidarbha exposes the betrayal and double standards on the policy of having smaller states.

As Babasaheb Ambedkar said, states should be based on linguistic groups. However it is not practical to insist that all states should be formed on the basis of language groups alone. It is practical and necessary to have more than one state formed from the same language groups. According to several commissions and political experts independent statehood is in the interest of Vidarbha.

Parties and organisations supportive of an independent Vidarbha have called for a ‘Vidarbha bandh’ [shutdown] on 09 December 2013. In order to awaken the state of Maharashtra the prisoners have decided to go on a one day hunger strike on 09 December.

The signatories, on behalf of the prisoners, humbly call upon the state government at its Nagpur session to declare independent statehood for
Your trusted prisoners
Sudhir Dhawle, Divakar Kotulvar, Divakar Jha and others
Date: 06-12-2013.
Place: Nagpur

For further information contact
Dr Radha D’Souza