*Front line leaders of social movements vow to renew struggles and resist corporate-fascist onslaught on our democratic fabric

*Waqt ki Aawaz hai: Milke Chalo:  NAPM 3 day National Convention begins at Puri*

*23rd Nov:* The 3 day National Convention of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) began today at Puri with power-packed presentations by numerous activists and movement leaders from across the country, who spoke in unison in defence of our democracy, under grave threat today from fascists and corporates. 

About 40 representatives of diverse movements spanning 17 states opened up the convention by offering soil to a fragrant Sevanti (Chrysanthemum coronarium) plant, chosen to "spread its fragrance in the world instead of the poison of hatred in the country today." This was followed by vibrant song and dance by hundreds of people to the tune 'Waqt ki Aawaz hai, milke Chalo, composed by RELAA Cultural Group. 

Speaking in the inaugural, Bezawada Wilson of Safai Karamchari Andolan challenged the Prime Minister saying that the country has to be run by the Constitution and not by the Manu Smriti or his whims and fancies. He also warned the Government to not hide behind dalits to defend their indefensible act of abrogation of Art. 370. He said platforms like NAPM have shown everyone that people's movements are still alive in this country, despite severe repression. 

Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) enjoined the audience not to forget "we have fought and we have won. We must remember to celebrate our hard-earned victories". The reason that the government is trying to oppress us is because we recognize the real relationship between the people and the government - and our right to speak and ask questions".

Prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad reminded everyone of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's warning that "we were walking down a road where our political fabric would be destroyed because of social and economic inequality.
Recalling the spirit & struggles of Kabir, Tukaram, Savitribai, Basava, Periyar whose vision contributed to making the Constitution, she exposed right-wing propaganda that Indian Constitution is only based on 'western' values. She spoke of the crucial issue of NRC in Assam which has today left a question mark on the citizenship of a large number number of poor people. The design to extend NRC across India and pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill is outright communal, she said. 

Referring to the struggles in Niyamgiri, Jagatsinghpur, Kashirpur, Kalahandi, Lower Suktel, Hirakud, Kandhamal, Prafulla Samantara described NAPM as a process that has always stood by those marginalized by development or by communal violence. 

Looking back at the long, continuing 35 yrs struggle of the people affected in the Narmada Valley,
Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan stated “aaj bhi hum log zinda hain” - “We have been displaced, drowned, trampled, but we are still here”. She spoke of the 25 years history of NAPM and the need to strengthen it 25 times more on today's challenging circumstances. Corporates and Fascists have power, money, resources and we don't. However, the three pillars of our struggle - annihilation of caste, secularism and resisting globalization when combined with non-violence will take us forward” she concluded.

Minjali and Daddi Pusaka from Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti fiercely reiterated that they shall give up lives, but not their land and hills. Melret from Koodankulam through her song and word in Tamil condemned the state repression on anti-nuclear struggles and called for unity of movements beyond caste, class and gender. Anita from Mahul Jeevan Bachao Andolan spoke of their successful agitations against the industrial pollution in Mumbai, compelling the Government to provide safe rehabilitation.  

Lakshmiben from Rashtriya Dalit Adhikaar Manch, Gujarat spoke of the Una struggle which has been an important anti-caste and land rights struggle in the past few years. Leelabai spoke of this struggle against the Lavasa Project. Manorama from Anti-POSCO struggle reaffirmed the need to resist corporate onslaught. Saraswati from Narmada Valley spoke of the tenacious spirit of the women who fight on the ground everywhere. 

Prof. Mohanty, Anjali Bharadwaj of NCPRI Kavita Shrivastav chaired the sessions with the endorsements that people's movements have been the bedrock of democracy, and that gatherings like this allow us to come together and be inspired by each other to move forward. All the 650+ guests assembled were welcomed by the Odisha State Committee and a team
of men and women from the Dongria Kondh Adivasi community of Niyamgiri. 

The day continues with the sharing of Stories and Symbols of Resistance and Resilience and Voices from Kashmir and North-Eastern Region, along with a session on the need for cultural resistance and reflection as a political tool for social transformation.

Events for tomorrow, November 24 begin with a human solidarity chain along Puri's scenic Golden Beach, from 7am to 9am. We invite friends in the media to cover the same and the other sessions.