Comrade Laxmanbhai Wadia


Comrade Laxmanbhai Chhaganbhai Wadia, 64 was a dedicated and popular leader from the Warli adivasi community of South Gujarat. This was very shocking to hear his passing away on 12 April. He developed breathing problem and chest congestion and owing to miserable medical infrastructure in Gujarat this wasn’t even possible to get him diagnosed properly. His demise is a big loss to us and to the struggles he was leading against land grab in Valsad, Navsari, Dang and Suraj regions.

His leadership was decisive in preventing land grab of thousands of adivasis after the implementation of Forest Rights Act in 2006. Since then he has organized dozens of protest rallies and campaigns at Valsad, Umargam, Kaprada and other places to provide land rights to adivasis. He also relentlessly fought against private organized corporate land mafia who tried to grab Adivasi lands by illegal means.

He had to pay a heavy price for his commitment and the struggles he led. He escaped attack on his life twice by mafia in collaboration with BJP goons. In one such attack he got injured. Nothing could stop him from leading the struggles from the frontline which certainly led to empowerment of Adivasi community in that region to newer heights. He fought against indiscriminate industrialization by GIDC being done at the cost of Adivasi lands and livelihoods and won struggles for potable water for the community, for wages as well as against the hold of private money lenders over Adivasi lives.

Comrade Laxmanbhai Wadia participated in Una March held in Gujarat against atrocities on Dalits. He was instrumental in organizing rural labour and women in his district and organized many conferences and cadre meets for AIPWA and AIARLA. He had attended AIARLA National Conferences held in Bhubaneshwar, Patna and Jehanabad along with many delegates from his district. He was also very helpful in organizing adivasis in adjoining Palghar district of Maharashtra.

After the brutal lockdown that was imposed last year this was Comrade Laxmanbhai who took initiative to send back home tens of thousands of Andhra Pradesh fishermen and their boats which got stranded near the coast of Gujarat. He personally supervised and ensured nearly 1100 boats reached home safely in their state.

His father was a poor farm worker, and so he could not study beyond Std IV. Since childhood he helped support his family by working as bonded and farm labour. He toiled to educate his younger brother who later became the branch manager of a nationalized bank.

In the 80s young Wadiabhai joined the Adivasi Sena against repression and loot by feudal lords and the land mafia, and became a prominent leader in that organization. He fought a long battle against grabbing of his ancestral land by GIDC and won in the end. Later, most top leaders of the Adivasi Sena joined the BJP. In 2005 Wadia joined the CPIML. In 2007 he was the party candidate from Umargaon constituency in the Assembly election. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election he was the party candidate from Valsad and polled 9,700 votes. In addition to being responsible for the Gujarat State leading team, he was also a member of the AIARLA National Executive and AICCTU National Council. Laxmanbhai Wadia was the delegate for the CPIML’s 9th and 10th party congresses.

He struggled relentlessly for about four decades against the land mafia associated with BJP as well as Congress. During this period he was attacked numerous times, but he never accepted defeat. His death due to sudden illness is a sorrowful event for the party and for all who knew him.

Red salute, Wadia bhai! Your memory will always fill our hearts!