Skip to main content

Seeking agreed demands execution, Dalit farm workers' rally lathicharged in Punjab

By Harsh Thakor* 

A 10,000 strong contingent of Dalit agricultural workers under the leadership of the common front of rural and farm labour organizations, Sanjha Morcha Sangrur, thronged near the chief minster’s residence in Sangrur-Patiala highway. For over a month the organisations forming part of the front had prepared for the event.
One of the largest Dalit worker gatherings in recent times in Punjab, as soon as the contingent of labourers proceeded towards Kothi to knock at the door of chief minister's house, the police unleashed lathicharge upon them. Many men and women were injured; many lost their turbans, due to which the anger in the minds of the workers escalated. 
Threatened by the anger of the workers, the chief minister agreed to meet a panel of labour leaders on December 21 in Chandigarh, after which the blockade was lifted.
Agricultural workers converged in the form of caravans from all over Punjab to ring a bell at the chief minister's house for the implementation of the agreed demands of and for concrete settlement of the demands. Chief minister Bhagwant Mann was away in Gujarat for election campaign.
Those who addressed the landless workers under the Patiala Bridge included President of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee Mukesh Malaudh, General Secretary of tge Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union Punjab Lakhvir Longowal, State General Secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union Lachhman Singh Savewala, state leader of tge Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Punjab Makhan Singh Ramgarh, state leader of the Kull Hind Khet Mazdoor Union Bhup Chand Channon, leader of the Dehati Mazdoor Union Prakash Nandgarh, leader of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha Gulzar Gaurian, and state president of the Pendu Mazdoor Union Tarsem Pete.
Condemning the police lathicharge they said that the Bhagwant Singh Mann government is treading the same anti-labour policies as the previous governments. They stated that the government is paying no heed to the accepted demands of rural agricultural labourers due to caste-based discrimination and is not ready to offer any concrete solution to their burning emands.
Other leaders of the joint front of rural and farm labour organizations who addressed the rally included Kashmir Singh Ghugshore, Zora Singh Nasrali, Krishan Chauhan, Paramjit Mudki, Bikkar Singh Hathoa, Pargat Singh Kalajhar, Mithu Singh Ghudda, Paramjit Kaur Longowal, Devi Kumari, Harbhagwan Singh Moonak, Dharamveer Harigarh, Lal Singh Dhanula, and Avtar Singh Rasulpur.
The leaders said that after the chief minister cancelled the meeting scheduled with the Mazdoor Morcha on October 3, they were not given time for the next meeting. There was no agreement at a meeting held by Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema. The apathy instilled anger in the rural workers against the AAP government and the chief minister.
They demanded that the employment of the labourers should be guaranteed for the whole year and the daily wages should be stipulated to Rs 700; one third portion of the panchayat lands should be allotted to the labourers at a cheap price; the ownership rights of the Nazul lands should be given to the Dalits; plots should be given to the homeless and the needy; loans should be waived; compensation should be given to suicide victims; old age, widow, disabled pension should be increased to Rs 5,000, age; coercion on Dalits should be eradicated; and cases registered during the struggles should be lifted.
The Indian Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement condemning the lathicharge.
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India and frequently toured Punjab



Junk food push causing severe public health crisis of obesity, diabetes in India: Report

By Rajiv Shah  A new report , “The Junk Push: Rising Consumption of Ultra-processed foods in India- Policy, Politics and Reality”, public health experts, consumers groups, lawyers, youth and patient groups, has called upon the Government of India to check the soaring consumption of High Fat Sugar or Salt (HFSS) foods or ultra-processed foods (UPF), popularly called junk food.

Avoidable Narmada floods: Modi birthday fete caused long wait for release of dam waters

Counterview Desk  Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has accused the Sardar Sarovar dam operators for once again acting in an "unaccountable" manner, bringing "avoidable floods in downstream Gujarat."  In a detailed analysis, SANDRP has said that the water level at the Golden Bridge in Bharuch approached the highest flood level on September 17, 2023, but these "could have been significantly lower and much less disastrous" both for the upstream and downstream areas of the dam, if the authorities had taken action earlier based on available actionable information.

From 'Naatu-Naatu' to 'Nipah-Nipah': Dancing to the tune of western pipers?

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Some critics have commented that the ecstatic response of most Indians to the Oscar for the racy Indian song, “Naatu-Naatu” from the film, “RRR” reeks of sheer racism, insulting visuals and a colonial hangover. It was perhaps these ingredients that impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one critic says.

Astonishing? Violating its own policy, Barclays 'refinanced' Adani Group's $8 billion bonds

By Rajiv Shah  A new report released by two global NGOs, BankTrack and the Toxic Bonds Network, has claimed to have come up with “a disquieting truth”: that Barclays, a financial heavyweight with a “controversial” track record, is deeply entrenched in a “disturbing” alliance with “the Indian conglomerate and coal miner Adani Group.”

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".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Asset managers hold '2.8 times more equity' in fossil fuel cos than in green investments

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi*  The world’s largest asset managers are far off track to meet the  2050 net zero commitments , a new study  released by InfluenceMap , a London-based think tank working on climate change and sustainability, says. Released on August 1, the Asset Managers and Climate Change 2023 report by FinanceMap, a work stream of InfluenceMap, finds that the world’s largest asset managers have not improved on their climate performance in the past two years.

Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

Victim of 'hazardous' jobs, Delhi sanitary workers get two thirds of minimum wages

By Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) organized a Training of Trainers (ToT) Workshop for sewer workers and waste pickers from all across Delhi NCR. The workshop focused on bringing sanitation workers from different parts of Delhi to train them for organization building and to discuss their issues of minimum wage, contractual labour, regular jobs and social security.