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Massive Jind rally 'precursor' to proposed farmers' stir to Parliament in mid-March

By Harsh Thakor* 

After the conclusion of the historic farmers' struggle in Delhi, farmers' organizations are moving along the trail in different ways regarding the remaining demands taking off from where the Delhi protest ended last year. During this past year, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has undertaken a spate of militant actions at various levels.
A massive gathering of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other neighbouring States was staged on January 26 on the call of raising voices in different ways encompassing the whole the country on their issues. The spirit of resistance simmered at a crescendo like a spark turned into a prairie fire.
SKM, the umbrella front of hundreds of farmer’s organisations, pledged to intensify the movement at the all-India level for achieving the crucial issues on which the Central government has backed out despite written assurances. The leaders at Jind appeared prepared for a long haul struggle for getting legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP), removal of Minister of state Ajay Mishra Teni, named in Lakhimpur Kheri episode, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, loan waiver and other demands.
Hosted by the Haryana SKM, a large number of women, around 20,000, mainly from 20 districts of Punjab mobilised by the BKU (Ugrahan), was a noticeable feature of the show. SKM leaders Jogender Singh Ugrahan, Dr Darshan Pal, Rakesh Tikait, Hannan Mollah, Avik Saha, Yudhvir Singh, Atul Kumar Anjan, Aashis Mittal and others addressed the rally. They gave a message of preserving their unity with the tenacity of a boulder resisting a storm, in spite of desperate tactics of the BJP to create a division in the SKM ranks.
Dr Darshan Pal placed a resolution in respect of over 700 martyrs and kept one minute silence. Jogender Singh Ugrahan said that strong corporates backed the Modi regime which needs to be displaced from power in order to save the condition of the peasantry.
Rakesh Tikait thanked the farmers of Haryana and Punjab for foiling the nefarious designs of BJP to divide them on Hindu-Sikh basis. It was announced that a march to Parliament will be organised on a day between March 15 and 22 during the budget session. The exact date will be announced by the SKM meeting on February 9 at Kurukshetra.
Secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokri summarised the assault of the Mod-led BJP on the landed peasantry and agricultural labourers. Farmer leaders also highlighted importance of repealing black laws and supporting demand for giving pensions to Dalit agricultural labour families.
Despite Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal dispute between Punjab and Haryana, farmers on both sides expressed strong desire for establishing unity
Even during the past farmers’ struggle, January 26 held a special place. This day was the day of a big conspiracy staged by the Modi government to extinguish the farmers' struggle, which was overcome by the leadership of the struggle by standing up against it. The Modi government tried to infiltrate the farmers' to give it a communal colour and divide the farmers. It hatched a conspiracy through the Red Fort incident.
Despite the ongoing Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal dispute between Punjab and Haryana, farmers on both sides at the Jind rally expressed a strong desire for establishing unity, combating the divisive ploy of the Modi government. The BJP leaders' attempt to divert the river water during the struggle was sharply criticised.
Meanwhile, communal slogans are being raised in Punjab and attempts are being made to resurrect the communal terrorist movement of the 1980s. Communal slogans are being raised to create division of the farmers of Punjab from the farmers of other States. One cannot rule out communal slogans like 'Dhoti Topi Jamuna Paar' which were used in the 1980s targeting the migrant labourers.
The Jind rally proved to be a platform to uplift the unity of the farmers of both the sides. It would pave the way for an opportunity for the farmers not to let the issue of river water sharing to fade into a political gimmick for the leaders and to adopt the right strategy for its solution with mutual harmony.
However, one has to see how sections like Dalit agricultural labourers and industrial workers are won over to the side of the farmers, and their problems are inter-linked. The struggle should not be divorced from that of land distribution or agrarian crisis as a whole or against money lending through commission agents.
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*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India. Inputs: ‘Surkh Leeh' editor Pavel Kussa and BKU (Ugrahan) secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokri

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