Arabhavi's suicide a springboard for agitators of all causes

Govt talks to protesters, promises to address their woes

The death of sugar cane farmer Vithal Bhimappa Arabhavi, which brought the State government to its knees, has infused new hope among other protesters, camping in front of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (SVS).

“The suicide of Arabhavi has electrified the entire atmosphere and the legislature session,” said Ram Apte, chairman of the joint action committee (JAC) and senior advocate in North Karnataka.

The JAC is a forum of 15 associations including the Amruthmahal Kaval Activists’ Association and the Grameena Coolie and Agriculture Labourers’ Forum.

Such has been the impact that every protesting faction has been treading on a thin line which differentiates between ‘lobbying’ and ‘blackmail’.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah personally met 15 of the 18 groups to hear their pleas and resolve their problems, on Friday. To everyone, the government is assuring that their demands will be considered.

Dodda Ullarathi Karianna, convenor of the Amruthmahal Kaval shepherds, has threatened that he is ready to spill blood for his cause, like Arabhavi. “He (Arabhavi) spilt blood yesterday. I am ready to follow in his footsteps for protecting my livelihood in Chitradurga,” said Karianna. He is protesting against land sanctioned to defence and space organisations in Chitradurga.

At the other end of the protest venue, the First Aid Workers’ Association is also vociferous while airing its demands.

The association has been protesting to seek reprieve from the regular ‘raids’ by the Ayush department in the rural areas to weed out fake doctors. None of the members is educated in the field of medicine, but have been providing first-aid to people in villages which do not have a permanent doctor or a primary health centre (PHC).

The association states that their protest is for seeking the implementation of the Dr Sudarshan committee report, which has recommended to the government to provide them one-year training and an exam to validate them for a licence, to only provide first aid to people in remote villages.

“Like Arabhavi, perhaps, we also should send a strong message to make ourselves heard,” said one frustrated member of the association, who has been doing this job for 18 years.

As on Friday night, it was learnt that the government, which has been on the backfoot after the death of Arabhavi, met the agitators from 15 associations of the JAC for nearly 45 minutes. The JAC had threatened to lay a siege to the SVS, if Siddaramaiah did not meet them.

It is said that the chief minister, after much cajoling by his ministers, agreed to resolve their problems by scheduling a meeting at a later date.

Comments (+)