On March 27, 2021 over 20,000 farmers and fisherfolk at the coastal village Keelhaulers Manakudy, Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu came together for a Mahapanchayat. This was organised by the Joint Struggle Committee and was addressed by AIKS National President Dr. Ashok Dhawale, Convenor of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu and General Secretary of the National Fish workers Forum Olencio Simoes.
The huge Mahapanchayat was presided over by M.G. Devasahayam, IAS (Retd). Kodikal Sheikh Abdullah, 88 year old social activist and freedom fighter, Bishop Nazreen Soosai, Balaprajatipati Adiglar from the Ayya Vaikuntar Math which stands for social reforms, Sundarrajan from the Friends of Earth, AIKS Tamilnadu Joint Secretary Tulasi Narayan from Katupalli Port Struggle Committee, and young children of the village spoke. Thomas Franco of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) conducted the public meeting.
The Mahapanchayat condemned the proposed Adani port that the BJP central government has proposed to set up there as part of its ‘Sagarmala Project’. ‘This project would destroy the livelihoods of lakhs of people and also the fragile environment in this beautiful district and tourist centre at the southernmost tip of India,’ noted the farmers and fisherfolk of the region. They also supported the four month long historic nationwide farmers’ struggle.
All the speakers strongly attacked the neoliberal nexus of Modi-Shah-Ambani-Adani and noted that this nexus was responsible not only for the proposed port, but also for the disastrous three Farm Laws, four Labour Codes and the Electricity Bill. The speakers called upon the massive gathering to defeat the BJP and its allies in the coming state assembly elections in Tamilnadu and also in the Kanyakumari parliamentary by-election, both to be held on April 6.
A Resolution demanding a public declaration that the port project is withdrawn forever was unanimously passed by more than 20,000 participants. The highlight of this struggle was the agitation in the sea where more than 300 boats assembled with big black flags.