Seed Satyagrah - The Great Gene Robbery (11/12/2002)

11 December 2002


easy to see why Syngenta's on the run



NEWS UPDATE, 11th DECEMBER, 2002, Raipur.

Dear Comrades,

Greetings from Chhattisgarh.

On 10th December, 2002 workers, peasants, women and youth all over Chhattisgarh under the leadership of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha started the SEED SATYAGRAH to protect their sovereignty for survival and sustenance of human community and to re-assert their rights over the rare varieties of rice seeds by courting arrests in large numbers. They are protesting against the decision taken by the Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur to sell the 22,972 varieties of paddy germplasm, collected by the great scientists, Dr. Richharia, which is in their custody to a MNC called SYNGENTA. They also submitted a memorandum containing their 7-point demand. The programme was organized at block levels where the villagers from neighboring areas had gathered. From 11th onwards the action programme will be organized at village level. The following is a brief report of action programmes that took place in various parts of Chhattisgarh on 10th December, 2002 -

*In Basna more than 2,000 workers, peasants, women and youth had gathered and 1,200 courted arrest.
*In Kasdol more than 500 people came for the dharna and 200 of them courted arrest.
*In Saraipalli more than 1,000 people came and 489 of them courted arrest
*In Pithora more than 600 people had gathered for the dharna and 120 of them courted arrest.

Later all those arrested were released unconditionally. In Raipur more than 200 Child Labourers and Women had gathered and staged a dharna at Motibagh. They shouted slogans, sang revolutionary songs and also distributed pamphlets.

The SEED SATYAGRAH which started on 10th December 2002 (World Human Rights Day) will continue till 19th December 2002 Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Diwas (a tribal peasant martyr who was hanged to death by the British Empire on 19th December in 1857)...

Various People‚s Organization under the leadership of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM) like Chhattisgarh Kisan Panchayat, Chhattisgarh Mahilla Jagriti Sangathan, Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan, INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum) ˆ Chhattisgarh Unit, Sabla Dal (an Independent trade union of women domestic servants),  EKTA PARISHAD, Chhattisgarh Labour Institute etc. are part of the SEED SATYAGRAH.

At the state level the BJP is opposing the sale of the paddy germplasm but at the Centre its their government who is hobnobbing with the MNCs and making policies that are aimed at selling of all the traditional knowledge and resources. Their protest is more aimed at gaining political mileage and nothing else. The Congress Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Mr. Ajit Jogi have neither made any comment nor taken any action to stop the robbery even though it directly comes under their jurisdiction thus giving a clear indication of their line of thought. The state Congress is divided on the issue. Senior Congress Leader and Ex-Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Shayama Charan Shukla has issued a statement saying that the whole deal is betrayal with the farmers of Chhattisgarh and it should be stopped.

We will make an effort to keep you posted as the action plan progresses though there might be delays as it is difficult to gather news from interior regions. If you have any more information with regards to the SEED SATYAGRAH please contact us. We also expect your help and co-operation.

In Solidarity

Chhattisgarh Labour Institute

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