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An Account of Chipko

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SUDESHA - An account of the Chipko Movement Tehri Garhwal, Ullarakhand We get all our fuel and fodder from the forest. I remember as a girl how close the forests were to our village. Every year, when the contractors cut down trees we had to walk further and further to collect fire wood and grass. The whole day would pass and walking down and back. Not only there was fewer fuel and fodder left, but every year there were floods, landslides and even very old water springs dried-up. When the Gandhian activists came to our village and told us that the only solution to our problems of fuel and fodder was to stop the felling of trees and to let the forests heal, we were completely convinced and joined the agitation. Our first action was to stop a timber auction in Naran Dramaga. We went there by bus, and the first thing we saw was 500 policemen, outside the auction hall. We were not afraid. We pushed the doors open and rushed inside. As we entered the timber contractors were afraid for their lives and they all run away. We sat down on the chairs. And one woman even stood up on the auction table. After some time, around 12 o clock, all the 500 policemen came inside. And they were a sight! Wearing riot helmets and carrying sticks and what not. All the men stepped to each other in the centre. And we women stood up around them. And I went to our leader "don't sing brother, now your chipko-chapko won't work. We are women and where are we to go? Stand up now and walk outside. We have to do as they say." We were very afraid. We didn't know what was going to happen next. But nothing happened. We were taken to jail and kept there for 14 days. I tell you it was the happiest time of my life. There was no work to do, not even dishes to wash. Even in your mother's house you have to at least wash dishes. Cooked food arrived, we ate and slept - I tell you, the only place I was really happy was in jail. Whenever someone in the village is possessed by a bad spirit, we exorcise him, by beating the bad spirit out of him. The contractors had possessed our forests, so we made an effigy of them and chased them away. Whenever a big forest official used to come to reason with us, to allow the felling of trees, we used to take out a procession of lanterns in the day-time to light him the day. We asked him, "who's blind, you or us?" We were strong and did not give in and finally, the government passed a law in 1980, that there would be no felling of trees about 1000 meters. For 3 years our leaders were busy, spreading the news of the movement all over the Himalayas. Now and again they were holding a meeting of women from all over the area to discuss our problems of fuel and fodder. The women's organizations in the village should be strengthened. - In one neighboring village, there is a women's organization, but in the other two villages there are none. How do we form a united front? - Simple! You must start one there! - But when you ask women, they say what is a woman's organization? What is it going to do for them? The men, particularly are against it. Once, when I was the leader of the women's organization, I was in the blocked development office and I heard all the head-men of the village talking of how the workers of the village governing committee are corrupt. Now, I know that in a village only the head-man of the village has the power over public money, so I told the officer, that the real thieves were the head-men and he should first revoken their stomachs. Immediately there was an uproar. And when everyone went home, they repeated the story. And even though the head-man of our village was not there, they came and told him and filled his ears and then he turned all the 25 women who were in the women's organization against me. They held another election. And voted me out. And took back the register. I said "take it, I don't want to head the women's organization anymore. I haven't stolen anything, you are the thieves". And now the men in the village, don't even let the women have a meeting. - Why didn't you come in the morning? - I was ill. - Your husband didn't allow you to come. - No, why should he stop me? - Who knows? My husband must have come home? - He's come home? When? - This morning. - Oh! It's O.K. - But, I've felt that so many women who've come from so far, I must stay. - Yes, you must stay whatever happens. - I'll face it afterwards. Now I'll stay. I'm never afraid. - When we're all together, why should you fear? With the participation of SUDESHA DEVI, SAROJINI, BINA, NARENDER BHAGA DEVI, GYANI DEVI, SARASWATI, SHANTI DHOOM SINGH NEGI, VIJAM JARDHARI, KUNWAR PRASOON, PRATAP SHIKHAR Production A.S. NATRAJ Script ABHA BHANIYA Sound G.V. SOMASHEKHAR Editor PETER WELZ Camera NAVROZE CONTRACTOR, Direktor DEEPA DHANDRAJ Producer PIERRE HOFFMANN - FAUST FILM Faust Film, 1983

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: India
Language: English
Producer: Faust Films
Director: Deepa Dhanraj
Views: 148
Posted by: tinaki on May 2, 2010

A clip from Sudesha, a 1983 documentary film by Deepa Dhanraj for Faust Films.

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