Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
India

Vimal Bhai leaves behind an inspiring legacy

The senior activist had worked tirelessly in the field of climate action and justice for people displaced due to developmental projects

Sabrangindia 16 Aug 2022

Vimal Bhai

On August 15, Vimal Bhai, one of the most respected human rights activists of our times, breathed his last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi after a prolonged illness.

According to a press release issued by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), he had first been admitted to Safdarjung Hospital on August 10, and then shifted to AIIMS the same day following “severe complications related to lungs, liver, kidney, due to long covid, amidst reduced immunity.” He passed away after suffering multiple organ failure.

Vimal Bhai is perhaps best known for his activism with respect to rivers – whether it was the Narmada in Gujarat or the Ganga in Uttarakhand’s Tehri-Garhwal region where he worked to oppose pollution, and supported people’s rights to be involved in the ‘developmental processes’ as part of Matu Jan Sangathan.

He had also made a documentary titled Ten Years of Injustice in 2016, showcasing the impact of the Tehri Dam project on the local fragile ecology. “Until now, the problems arising in the Uttarakhand region and the Ganga Valley – much of which is caused by the number of small and big dams built – has been overlooked by the unjust greed for electricity; we have to save ecology and people’s rights over the natural resources provided by the Himalaya,” Vimal Bhai had said at a screening of this documentary in New Delhi in April 2016. He had criticised the Namami Ganga initiative which only looked at river pollution and cleaning, but evaded the issue of dams on the Ganga. “We will not give up until our rivers and our people get their rights,” he had said.

“From being an active organizer in the anti-dam and ecological movements to supporting basti-dwellers of Khorigaon, to helping anti-mining struggles in Rajasthan, being at the forefront of campaigns against hate and communal violence via Aman ki Pehel, to standing up for trans and queer rights, to supporting release of political prisoners and asserting the right to self-determination of Kashmiris, he was always with people and nature,” recalled NAPM of which he was one of the national co-ordinators and convenors for many years. “He participated with Pride in many LGBTQIA+ Pride Marches and was a key bridge between queer and other movements,” said the group paying homage to the activist.

It is also noteworthy that even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Vimal Bhai “immersed himself in assisting thousands of families of Khorigaon who were brutally evicted by the Haryana Government and denied fair rehabilitation.”

In a letter dated July 25, 2022, to President Draupadi Mumru, Vimal Bhai had appealed to her to uphold and defend the rights of Adivasis and also to meet students of the Narmada Jeevanshalas, to understand the impact of the Narmada dam project on displaced indigenous communities.

Related:

Uttarakhand’s rivers quench the thirst of millions while its residents face water shortage

Ten Years of Injustice: Tehri Dam Survivors  

Vimal Bhai leaves behind an inspiring legacy

The senior activist had worked tirelessly in the field of climate action and justice for people displaced due to developmental projects

Vimal Bhai

On August 15, Vimal Bhai, one of the most respected human rights activists of our times, breathed his last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi after a prolonged illness.

According to a press release issued by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), he had first been admitted to Safdarjung Hospital on August 10, and then shifted to AIIMS the same day following “severe complications related to lungs, liver, kidney, due to long covid, amidst reduced immunity.” He passed away after suffering multiple organ failure.

Vimal Bhai is perhaps best known for his activism with respect to rivers – whether it was the Narmada in Gujarat or the Ganga in Uttarakhand’s Tehri-Garhwal region where he worked to oppose pollution, and supported people’s rights to be involved in the ‘developmental processes’ as part of Matu Jan Sangathan.

He had also made a documentary titled Ten Years of Injustice in 2016, showcasing the impact of the Tehri Dam project on the local fragile ecology. “Until now, the problems arising in the Uttarakhand region and the Ganga Valley – much of which is caused by the number of small and big dams built – has been overlooked by the unjust greed for electricity; we have to save ecology and people’s rights over the natural resources provided by the Himalaya,” Vimal Bhai had said at a screening of this documentary in New Delhi in April 2016. He had criticised the Namami Ganga initiative which only looked at river pollution and cleaning, but evaded the issue of dams on the Ganga. “We will not give up until our rivers and our people get their rights,” he had said.

“From being an active organizer in the anti-dam and ecological movements to supporting basti-dwellers of Khorigaon, to helping anti-mining struggles in Rajasthan, being at the forefront of campaigns against hate and communal violence via Aman ki Pehel, to standing up for trans and queer rights, to supporting release of political prisoners and asserting the right to self-determination of Kashmiris, he was always with people and nature,” recalled NAPM of which he was one of the national co-ordinators and convenors for many years. “He participated with Pride in many LGBTQIA+ Pride Marches and was a key bridge between queer and other movements,” said the group paying homage to the activist.

It is also noteworthy that even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Vimal Bhai “immersed himself in assisting thousands of families of Khorigaon who were brutally evicted by the Haryana Government and denied fair rehabilitation.”

In a letter dated July 25, 2022, to President Draupadi Mumru, Vimal Bhai had appealed to her to uphold and defend the rights of Adivasis and also to meet students of the Narmada Jeevanshalas, to understand the impact of the Narmada dam project on displaced indigenous communities.

Related:

Uttarakhand’s rivers quench the thirst of millions while its residents face water shortage

Ten Years of Injustice: Tehri Dam Survivors  

Related Articles

Communalism

Gandhi as “evil” (Mahiasura) is a time-tested narrative for all hues of Hindu communalists

The latest depiction of Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Mahiasura’ at the All India’s Hindu Mahasaha’s puja pandal in Kolkatta is a time-tested narrative of Hindu communalists who, as Teesta Setalvad has writen, regurgitate this narrative portraying Gandhi as different forms of “evil”

Communalism

Gandhi as “evil” (Mahiasura) is a time-tested narrative for all hues of Hindu communalists

The latest depiction of Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Mahiasura’ at the All India’s Hindu Mahasaha’s puja pandal in Kolkatta is a time-tested narrative of Hindu communalists who, as Teesta Setalvad has writen, regurgitate this narrative portraying Gandhi as different forms of “evil”


Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives