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PUCL, December 2006

Kiritbhai Bhatt, president of PUCL, Gujarat passes away

Protagonist of human cause, an honest, fearless voice of protest against injustice and a fighting soldier of democratic mass movement Kirit Bhai is no more

-- By Dwarika Nath Rath from Ahmedabad

[Comment by PUCL Gen. Sec.]

The known Human rights activist of Gujarat expired on last 24th. December noon. He died of massive heart attack at Bhavnagar his ancestral home.

His dead body was brought back to his house Baroda in mid night. He was cremated in Baroda in a very dignified way. Hundreds of people and citizens attended the funeral on 25th. December at 10 A.M.

Kirit bhai Bhatt was known to all as Kirit bhai.He was the leading figure of Human Rights activist of Gujarat.He was the working President of Gujarat PUCL and the Convenor of Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) Baroda Chapter. He was very actively associated with All India Save Education Committee and the Anti Imperialist Forum of Gujarat Chapter. He was actively involved in Anti fee hike movement of the students in MS UNIVERSITY and against the Common University Act and had joined the campaign against the commercialization and the and the privatization of education. He joined the anti liberalization and anti- globalization campaign in the state and voiced against the SEZ. He joined the anti American Imperialistic demonstration s, Dharnas and went to Calcutta to attend the All India Anti- imperialist Conference as a guest speaker. Few days back he spoke against the death sentence of Saddam Hussein in protest meeting.

Kirit Bhai’s role for Justice and Rule of law in the state (Aman Ekhllas- Insaf ) during the 2002 carnage Gujarat and post carnage was exemplary one. His anti communal, secular stand brought the wrath of the Sanhga Parivar . He played a pivot role against the demolition of the Dargah by the Baroda Municipality this year.

He stood before the bulldozer along with others to protest against the demolition of the slums and got arrested. He never hesitated to join the relief work. He was very active during the last water logging of Baroda city and joined the people’s public hearings and joined the deputations , dharnas and demonstrations in support of the flood victims. He took up the issue of violation of Civil liberties and democratic rights in last 2001 killer earth quake. And went to Bhachau to record the police atrocities on the workers of S.U.C.I. and submitted the report to the NHRC and various bodies which drew Govt.’ attention. He was not indifferent to election battle. He campaign for the people’s candidates in the Baroda Municipal Election. In last LokSabha Poll he along with other citizens actively campaigned for Tapan Dasgupta, the S.U.C.I. candidate from Baroda parliamentary seat who was considered as the people’s candidate. He was of the opinion of developing people’s democratic platform against the ruling BJP and Congress parties.

He too fought for the oustees of the Narmada Dam and voice against the saffronisation of the tribal particularly in the district of Dang. His concern for the Droughts, Civic Amenities, Cyclone, Tsunami is also well known.

He was a journalist. He was associated with George Fernandez in the Dynamite case of 1975 and arrested during the emergency. But he dissociated himself from George Fernandez when he joined the NDA alliance.

If we take the stock of his involvement in activities he became the icon of the concerned citizens of highest order. He was available for every one at any moment may be social, political or the pure personal. Any body can call him at any hour. He had many friends and admirers. He earned many enemies for the public cause but not personnel one. He never hesitated to take a stand against injustice inspite of family and financial constraints.He was very descent man with a friendly profile which attracted many to him. It was so easy to approach him. He was always ready co-fighter for the right cause. He was the bridge and unifying factor of all social and political forces.

There be many more valuable incidents and episodes involving Kirit bhai for the cause the cause of the society, which I might be missing. What has been penned down by me is just a gleams of his character which I had been closing watching and fortunate enough to be with him some time for last twenty one years.I may be excused for the missing episodes.

In brief he was the protagonist of human cause, an honest,fearless voice of protest against injustice and a fighting soldier of democratic mass movement.

A great void has been created after his sad demise. We have lost a very valuable person. Two months back Prof. Devvrat Pathak the President of Gujarat P.U.C.L. and one of the most leading citizens of the State passed away We have become poorer due to his sad demise of leading citizens at the hour all out crisis in Gujarat.

It is hard to forget Kirit bhai. We will remember you Kirit bhai.

A memorial meeting will be held on 7th. of January at Baroda and similar meeting will be held in Ahmedabad too.

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From Ramesh Pimple:
Kirit Bhatt working president of peoples union for civil liberties gujarat ,General secretary of Peoples Media Initiative ,founder member of Movemet for Securlar Democracy gujarat ,a very committed senior human rights activist and peoples journalist expired at Bhavnagar on 24th December and his creamation took place at his home town Baroda on 25th morning.

He was in his mid sixtees and a centre figure in baroda for social activists of Baroda,his role in exposing Gujarat govt in 2002 communal carnage/genocide was very prominent,during riots under he and pucl team did commendable job by saving the life of hundreds of helpless members of minority community in Baroda,he was one of the member of fact finding report of pucl baroda on gujarat carnage.during those turbulent period he bearing scrotching heat ignoring the doctors advice on his old scooty(two wheeler) he was always on move day and night.his health started falling since than,i consider his untimelly death is one of the casualty of gujarat riots,his body just started collapsing since than and he was heart broken also as justice alluded to thevictims of Gujarat riots.

He was number one accused in famous Baroda dyanamite case with George Fernandez,spend 14 months in solitary confinemnt in Baroda jail during emergency,his family faced virtual social boycott as he was consider enemy number one of state that time.

He gave very bold to suport Narbada bachao andolan on issue of rehabitalation and sardar sarovar dam issue,because of his stand he lost his job as journalist and was targeted by BJP Congress equally,very few had shown such courage to take frank stand on sardar sarovar dam issue while staying in Gujarat.Through PUCL he was in forefront in exposing Hari Vallabh sex scandal of Chota Udaipur district of triabal belt north gujarat,plague report on surat plague,comunal violnce report of 1993 of surat,more than 45 fact finding reports are credited to him on various issues of human rights violation cases in Gujarat.Infact everyday he was involved in solving one or other issue ,a very committed activist rare to find.

Because of his involvement in social activism his familly suffered equally,his last job was with Indian Express almost decade ago,he was thrown out of the job without any compensation and he was freelance journalist since than with meagre income to survive.Social Movement could do little to help him in his difficult period,he suffered silentlly.

There will not be another Kirit Bhatt who sacrificed entire life for social cause,George Fernandez invited him number of time to be with him ,but he refused to be on the side of communalist facist which George was with and never compromised in principles which he cherished and adhered,he just kepton fighting fighting ,when ask he used to say he cant sit silentlly when injustice is done to the people.

His wife undergone major head sugery and how he manage the medical expenses difficult to narrate,he himself was not keeping well and his daughter a journalist herself was the sole support to him.

Well life will goes on so the without him but there will nobody like him to rush to help victims of state,society and void will remain there which he left behind. the mainstream society never understood him because they never understood the plights of marginalised section of the society and there will be very few takers to follow his foothsteps,just few are left now.


People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014