January 08 2000
VETERAN ACTIVISTS AVINASH B.J. AND CHHAYA DIE IN ROAD ACCIDENT IN SATARA
MAHARASHTRA LOSES GEM OF ACTIVISTS
Avinash B.J. and Chhaya, the main activists in the Koyana Project affected
people's organisation and one of the leading activists in western Maharashtra,
died in a road accident on Friday (January 7). Avinash and Chhaya were traveling
in a two wheeler in Satara town when a speeding truck dashed them to death.
Avinash (39) and his colleagues founded 'Satya-shodh', a school for the blinds
in Koregaon, in late 1980s. The school has been a novel one for the blinds and
has undertaken new schemes. However, Avinash and his colleagues like Ravi,
Chhaya and Chandrakant have been a part of the larger movement throughout
Maharashtra and India. They have been participating in various movements like
Narmada, Gosikhurd, Shoshit Jan Andolan, tribals’ rights movements, movements
against the displacement due to sanctuary, large dams, factories.
It was natural for Avinash and his colleagues to take up the cause of the
Koyana dam affected people. The people have been displaced for the last 30 years
and have been living a precarious existence. The people were organised
systematically under the aegis of 'Koyana Jeevan Hakka Samrakshan Sangathana'.
The organisation has taken up the issues of resettlement, additional land, land
rights of the oustees, opposition to the incoming sanctuary on the lands of the
oustees on the fringe of the Koyana reservoir. The organisation has mooted a
new concept of 'Jan Abhayaranya' (People’s Sanctuary). The organisation has
also started the constructive work by introducing charkha spinning and honey
producing in the villages. A smooth blend of 'Sangharsha’ and 'Nirman'
(struggle and regeneration) marked Avinash’s work and personality.
Avinash has been taking initiative in larger work of Shoshit Jan Andolan, of
which he was a convenor for two years. He was the western Maharashtra coordinator
of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). He was at the forefront in
coordinating the people’s movements against the anti-people forestry and
national parks etc. He held regular workshops, camps of young activists and
villagers for conscientisation and knowledge. He also was a
writer-journalist and good orator, a poet and a vigorous mobiliser. He and all the
'Satya shodh' colleagues have been close friends of the hundreds of
organisations and activists throughout Maharashtra and India. The soft spoken,
affable Avinash and Chhaya were a really a source of strength and confidence
for all those who have been concerned with the justice and the construction of a
new society. He was one of the leading figures in Maharashtra activism.
Colleagues with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM remember Avinash and Chhaya
with all the respect and affection, as a part of our beings.