Lakhan Musafir, a very prominent grassroot activist in Narmada district was served with an externment order. He is not allowed to enter Narmada, Bharuch, Tapi, Chhota Udepur and Baroda – five districts.

Not only were the charges against Lakhanbhai ridiculously false, no evidence, no witnesses, no arguments, no cross-examination, no proper hearing and yet the Narmada District Sub-Divisional Magistrate thought it fit to pronounce his order wholly swallowing the lies presented by the police in their complaint. Turning due process of law on its head he says, Lakhan Musafir should not be considered innocent because he has not proved himself innocent in other pending cases.

Orders such as this one make the Government and legal procedure a laughing stock. The charges against Lakhan Musafir include: inciting people, engaging in “violent” activities, carrying arms, trading in liquor. What can be more absurd! Moreover, Administration seems to have been hell bent on passing this order because Courts all over India are dealing with only urgent matters, holding virtual hearings etc. This officer thought it fit to hold physical hearings, but did not call for evidence from prosecution.

Lakhan Musafir is an activist of 40 years’ standing. He quit his home and studies to first go to Vinoba Bhave’s Paunar ashram in 1982 and then participated in the satyagraha against cow-slaughter. Realising the importance of cow and its progeny in agriculture he decided to immerse himself in organic farming, manual labour-for-a-living, sustainable lifestyle, constructing biogas plants, training masons etc. Along the way he informed his family that he would only live on his manual labour earnings and would not take a penny from his family and wanted no share in his family property.

All his life Lakhanbhai has carried out experiments on himself and his lifestyle. e.g., he would only consume what he could earn from a day’s manual labour, he would only travel to places where a bicycle would take him etc. It was Lakhanbhai who again made chemical-free jaggary popular in Gujarat starting the late 1990s. He encouraged farmers to process their own produce for better remuneration, grow and process their own turmeric and countless other products. That is the man this Administration wants us to believe is a bootlegger!

Over the last 10 years Lakhanbhai has worked tirelessly for the awareness of Adivasis in Kevadia area of Narmada district. He has constantly been by the side of the people of the 6 villages of Kevadia, Kothi, Navagam, Vagadia, Limdi, and Gora who lost their lands but were recognised as project-affected. He tried hard to save the Adivasis from losing land to Garudeshwar weir. He tried to help farmers affected by Sardar Patel’s statue.

Adivasi students suffer from poor education infrastructure in Narmada and other districts. He has started free Maths, Science tutorials for students, benefiting hundreds of 10th graders. That is the man the powers-that-be want us to believe is inciting people.

This externment order is not only meant to scare and harass Lakhan Musafir, it is an attempt to silence the Adivasis of Narmada district. It is an assault on the freedom of expression, people’s democratic rights. It will neither scare Lakhan nor the people he works with and represents. The struggle against injustice shall carry on.

  • Jyotibhai Desai
  • Daniel Mazgaonkar
  • Rajni Dave
  • Swati Desai
  • Anand Mazgaonkar
  • Mahesh Pandya
  • Dev Desai
  • Parth Trivedi
  • Rohit Prajapati
  • Krishnakant Chauhan