Skip to main content

Struggle will continue, say farmer leaders: 'Victory rallies' in Maharashtra, Delhi

By Harsh Thakor* 

The Shetkari Kamgar Mahapanchayat (SKM), which took place recently in Mumbai's Azad Maidan, with at least 100 organisations coming under one umbrella, saw peasants, workers, agricultural labourers, women, youth and students of all religions and castes from all over Maharashtra culminating at the venue to celebrate the victory in terminating the farmers bills.. The rally took place ahead of the the winter session of Parliament in which the Centre moved the bill to repeal the three farm laws.
In addition to celebrating the “historic” victory, the speakers at the rally declared their determination to fight for the remaining demands.
These include a Central law to guarantee a just minimum support price (MSP) and procurement, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill, removal from the Cabinet and arrest of Lakhimpur Kheri MP Ajay Mishra Teni for the tragedy in which several farmers and and a journalist were run over by a car allegedly belonging to his son, repeal of the four labour codes, end to “selling off” the country to corporates, halving the price of diesel, petrol, cooking gas and other essential commodities, doubling the days of work and wages under MNREGA and extending it to the urban areas.
SKM leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal and Hannan Mollah, addressed the gathering. Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar, Yudhvir Singh, Tajinder Singh Virk, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Rajaram Singh and others also spoke. Tikait accused the Central government of running away from a debate on MSP and other issues.
“Several issues related to farming and labour sectors need attention, and we will travel all over the country to highlight them,” he said. Speaking to the media, Tikait said the Central government should bring a law to guarantee MSP. “Otherwise, January 26 (Republic Day) is not far and 4 lakh tractors and farmers all are there.” He said, the ruling BJP had framed critics of the government as ‘Maoists’, ‘Islamists ’ or ‘Khalistanis'.
The Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha (SSKM) leader Ashok Dhawale said the Mahapanchayat also called for the defeat of the BJP in upcoming State assembly elections and the Statewide local body elections in Maharashtra.
Yogendra Yadav portrayed the harsh economic conditions prevailing and how the policies of the rulers reversed any progress, while Hannan Mollah referred to the instances when Sikhs joined anti-imperialist movements and how till today they breathed the spirit of secularism at the highest pitch.
Tajinder Singh Virk recounted how in Laxmipur Kher, the team of BJP cadre pounced on him and other farmers like a lion attacking it’s prey. He threw light not only on the barbarity of the incident, but how the rulers framed the farmers. Virk narrated how Union minister of state Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was driving one of those vehicles -- and that he was targeted for leading the protest that day against the Minister’s remarks about farmers the previous week.
The Shaheed Kalash Yatra of the Lakhimpur Kheri martyrs, which began from Pune on October 27, traversed over 30 districts of Maharashtra in the last one month, reached Hutatma Chowk. It also commemorated the 106 martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra struggle in the 1950s. After this, the ashes of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre martyrs were immersed in the Arabian Sea off the Gateway of India in a special programme at around 4 pm, just after the Mahapanchayat at Azad Maidan.
Being the death anniversary of social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, SKM paed rich homage to him. In all, around 50,000 persons attended the rally, with around 12,000 participants occupying the actual assembly place.

Delhi rally

The rally took place following the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) commemorating the annual anniversary of the Delhi Morcha at Pakaura Chowk, New Delhi, with a huge public rally, where also around 50,000 persons participated. The speakers at the rally said, after the announcement of repeal of farm laws they would continue their struggle for their remaining demands.
The rally started with a tribute to more than 700 martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the struggle. State committee of the organisation saluted the martyrs’ memorial temporarily established in the rally ground. Participants joined the tribute standing silently for two minutes as revolutionary poet Sant Ram Udasi’s anthem of martyrs ‘chadhan waleoo haqaan di bhet utteh’ (o people who sacrificed their lives for rights) was played from the stage.
Addressing the rally Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan), said the “historic victory” of the farmershas been made possible not only by the unity of farmers and farm labourers from across the country but also global solidarity. He reminded that demands like procurement of agriculture produce of all crops at remunerative MSP and universal public distribution system (PDS) are still unfulfilled.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general Secretary of the organisation, stated that demand like procurement on MSP and PDS are unaddressed, even as as Indian state is committed to implement policies of the World Trade Organisation. The farm laws were part of these policies, so the real solution lies in India getting out WTO agreements.
Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice president and Shingara Singh Mann said there was need to guard against complacency, warning, if farmers became less vigilant about opportunist political parties, the upcoming elections may prove to be an assault on their unity.
Harinder Kaur Bindu, leader of women’s wing of the organisation, said that women played leading and equal role in the protest against the farm laws, adding, this role would be expanded in the future struggles. She called upon women to take more responsibility in the struggles. I attach great significance to this in contemporary light of women being subordinated to oppression.
Lachman Singh Sevewala, general secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, insisted, that farm workers have played an important role in the agitation and the unity among farmers and farm workers has become stronger. Among those who were present on the occasion included human rights human rights activists Gauhar Raza, Shabnam Hashmi, and Nandini Sunder, among others.
---
*Freelance journalist based in Mumbai, has toured India, particularly Punjab, has been writing on mass movements

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w