Vimal bhai Lives on! In Our Hearts! In our Andolans for Azadi and Justice!
15th Aug, 2022, New Delhi: It breaks our heart to share the most devastating news of Vimal bhai, well-known social and environmental activist, and one of the key leaders of NAPM, succumbing today at the AIIMS, New Delhi. The past 6 days were extremely harrowing for Vimal bhai and everyone caring for him, as he bravely battled for life, minute by minute. We trust all the doctors tried their best to save him, but owing to multiple organ failure, his body gave up. On 10th Aug, he was taken to the Safdarjang hospital and the same evening admitted to AIIMS, because of severe complications related to lungs, liver, kidney, due to long Covid, amidst reduced immunity.
That Vimal bhai touched thousands of lives in a deeply personal and political way, is evident from the non-stop messages of concern, hope and prayers that have been streaming in from across the country, ever since information of his being unwell was out. Be it with the Ganga or Narmada, his passion for rivers to remain free and flowing, remains the hallmark of his activism that spans over 4 decades. He worked relentlessly to oppose mindless damming of rivers, pollution and supported people’s rights to be involved in the ‘developmental processes’, especially in the Tehri-Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, as part of Matu Jan Sangathan.
Vimalbhai indeed represented the true rainbow of resistance in his work of struggle and solidarity. From being an active organizer in the anti-dam and ecological movements to supporting basti-dwellers of Khorigaon, to helping anti-mining struggles in Rajasthan, being at the forefront of campaigns against hate and communal violence via Aman ki Pehel, to standing up for trans and queer rights, to supporting release of political prisoners and asserting the right to self-determination of Kashmiris, he was always with people and nature. He was one of the national co-ordinators and convenors of NAPM for many years. He participated with Pride in many LGBTQIA+ Pride Marches and was a key bridge between queer and other movements.
In the last two years of the raging Covid pandemic, in addition to enormous relief work, he immersed himself in assisting thousands of families of Khorigaon who were brutally evicted by the Haryana Govt. and denied fair rehabilitation. Fondly addressed as Kakaji, Khori-wasis, old and young waited on him day and night at the hospital and did all they could to save him. While we bid salaams to Vimalbhai, we must commit to lend increased solidarity to the people of Khorigaon, whose struggle continues.
His last letter was to the new President Ms. Draupadi Murmu, on 25th July, 2022 in which he called upon her to take substantive steps to end repression on adivasis, uphold their rights in V Schedule areas and protect their unique cultural, linguistic, religious lifestyle. He remained a steadfast supporter of the Narmada struggle for decades and hoped the President would meet the adivasi students of the Narmada Jeevanshalas, to understand the ill-motivated attack on Narmada Abhiyan by the current regime.
A person who remained down-to-earth and non-consumerist throughout his life, Vimalbhai was often one of the ‘go-to’ persons for many movement saathis who would land up in Delhi with plans for dharnas, demonstrations and delegations. His home was always open to karyakartas of all movements. He was an excellent cook, artist, poet, docu-film maker, campaigner, friend; all packed into one. He was extremely resourceful as a movement activist and diligently used all democratic tools to hold authorities and institutions accountable to people’s rights and laws of the land. He was someone who firmly believed in ‘sangharsh – nirman’ from zameen to Courts to Parliament. His imprint on many of the SC and NGT judgements, legislations over the years on environmental matters are part of his legacy. He was always keen on engaging with and training young people and so many of us have benefitted from our association with him, over the years.
In this painful moment, we convey our deepest condolences to his family members, movement co-travellers and friends across India and beyond. Zindabad to people of Khorigaon, Delhi civil society, lawyers, doctors, medical staff at AIIMS and Safdarjang and volunteers who worked round the clock with the hope to bring back Vimal bhai.
We will sorely and eternally miss you, Vimal bhai, but we shall cherish you in our hearts, in our ongoing struggles, as we have no option but to continue to save our democracy from fascist and corporate onslaught, from the deepening ecological and climate crisis.
Inquilab Zindabad, Satrangi Salam Vimalbhai: A True Son of the Soil of Sangharsh and Rivers of Resistance!
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG)
Messages can be sent to [email protected]
Few links to Vimalbhai’s work are below:
For, films on you tube, type: bandh katha
Struggle of people of Khorigaon: https://khorigaon.in/