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An uphill task? Farmers' groups along Delhi border attempt to 'broaden' struggle

By Harsh Thakor*

A protracted war of resistance appears to be unfolding on the border of Delhi, whee protesting farmers have intensified their struggle against the three agricultural laws. A massive tractor march was planned as a precursor to a similar rally on the Republic Day. Farmers are being mobilized under the guidance of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and other organisations in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
President Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who leads the radical BKU faction, feels the struggle has reached a higher stage, while secretary Sukhdev Khokri is optimistic of the progress of the struggle. Meanwhile, landless Dalit agricultural labourers fro Punjab have joined the contingent in Delhi. The Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union and the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Committee have mobilized agricultural labour. Student and youth contingents are continuously storming in like the flow of a river.
In the words of “Surkh Leeh” chief editor Jaspal Jassi, “The peasantry has struck the rulers hard and won a great moral victory, even though the rulers continue to be defiant.” The farmer leaders have pledged that they would not relent. Solidarity protests have been undertaken in Punjab amongst all sections.
Internal bickerings among farmer organisations, however, continue. Leaders of the Kirti Kisan Union have accused the Ugrahan group for not allowing leaders like Yogendra Yadav to speak from its platform. The Ugrahan group, however, defended its stands stating it was allowing all “democratic” voices to voice their view.
Be that as it may, the All-India Kisan Coordination Committee has been able to put up a united face, with the BKU (Ugrahan) and the Kirti Kisan Union playing important role in order to take the movement at the all-India level, though a predominant weakness is the lack of integration of the working class in the movement.
Major solidarity rallies have taken place in Bandra in Mumbai, in Kolkata and in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. Solidarity actions were also witnessed in Canada. Even as demanding dropping the three farm laws, leaders feel, a long and enduring struggle awaits to ensure guaranteed government procurement at reasonable prices of all crops and the right to public distribution system.
There have been attempts to broadbase the farmers’ struggle. Some farmers’ organisations observed Human Rights Day, with voices raised condemning allegedly illegal detention of workers’ activist Sudha Bharadwaj, Andhra revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, social activist Father Stan Swamy and several other political and social activists arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Joginder Singh Ugrahan said at one of the meetings, “After many unsuccessful attempts, the government has been forced to accept the depth of the struggle and take the road to talk. The pressure of the struggle now is on the government. However, police action, as seen in Dharuhera (Riwari), where they poured tear gas balls to stop farmers, continues. The government's apathy towards the death of 50 farmers during the Delhi Morcha is disgraceful.”
Renowned writer Arundhati Rai arrived at the Delhi Morcha on January 9 to show solidarity with women farmers’ struggle
He claimed, “The government is looking to destroy the struggle through the weapon of talks. Amendment proposals actually want consent for laws which means allowing big corporates entry into the crop marketing”, adding, “We have jointly extinguished this move of the government but have refused to get trapped in it. The government wants to create an atmosphere of disappointment in the struggling people by showing the stubbornness of not abolishing the law during talks.”
Meanwhile, demonstrations continue in rural areas of Punjab and Haryana. There was a programme of burning Narendra Modi's effigy in 51 villages of seven districts under the banner of the Punjab Farm Labour Union. Protest rallies were held in the villages of Sri Muktsar Sahib, Bathinda, Faridkot, Moga Jalandhar, Sangrur and Patiala districts.
Contingents of Punjab Students Union and Naujwan Bharat Sabha left Monak in Punjab to join and reinforce the agitation sites along Delhi. Their activists pledged that the Republic Day parade will be the most challenging ever to confront the Modi government’s policies. In Bhatinda, a conference was staged where funds were collected for the field workers in Delhi. Teachers, doctors, shopkeepers and private bus operators, who participated in the conference, contributed generously.
Renowned writer Arundhati Rai arrived at the Delhi Morcha on January 9 to show solidarity with the farmers’ struggle and addressed women farmers from the stage of BKU Ekta (Ugraha). She said, “This struggle cannot be defeated because it is a struggle of living hearts, the whole country has hopes with you because the fighting people are in Delhi.”
According to her, “There is no such struggle in the world matching the intensity as it is on the border of Delhi today. Ite is destined to re-write political history.” Linking the farmers' struggle with the tribal people, summarising how the corporates looted the tribal community of their land, she added, “This movement taught has the country the real meaning of unity.”
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*Political commentator based in Mumbai who regularly tours different parts of India, to report on democratic events and movements

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Mths world at large Support
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No farmers No food

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