Skip to main content

Punjab farm workers' major victory amidst 'merciless' corporate land grab, poor wages

By Harsh Thakor* 

After a sustained 11 day protest dharna outside the office of the Sub-divisional magistrate, in Jaitu village of Faridkot, from 24th May, the Grameen Mazdoor Union emerged victorious in winning demands. Enduring the gruelling heat the Dalit agricultural workers displayed unflinching resilience. The grassroots or spade work of the union deserves to be complemented.
The deputy commissioner assured that 5 Marlas of plots would be distributed to each family, provided secure houses to compensate for damage caused due to rains and rights to own houses. A final meeting has been finalised outside Faridkot civil court on June 6th between the Grameen Mazdoor Union leaders and the authorities.
On each day the Grameen Mazdoor Union weathered attempts by the police or politicians to sabotage their resistance, and raised slogans of their demands, at the highest pitch of their voice. Creditable it never buckled to any intimidation.
A very significant happening was the solidarity of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, representing the landed peasantry, offering solidarity by integrating with the protest on June 3rd. Its leaders expressed the need for the landed peasantry to establish common ground with the agricultural labourers.
Leaders of Bhartiya Kisan Union, Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) and Krantikari Kisan Union addressed the gathering. At that point of time, the deputy commissioner was unwilling to agree to the demands. Prominent speakers were Sardul Singh Bhatti, Nachatar Singh, Gurjeet Singh Jaitu, Nayab Singh and Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala.
A chakka was called in Bhatinda for June 3rd, if the authorities were reluctant to comply with the demands. Leaders Kashmir Singh Gugshore and Agrez Singh, on the final day, summarised how even after a duration of nine days the administration remained adamant to conceding demands, but finally the pressure of the dharna took its toll on the administration, compelling it to yield to the protestors. They termed the protest conclusion as a moral victory and the activists looked jubilant.
Earlier, from 15th May to 22nd May the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Commitee conducted a sustained protest outside the District Collector’s office in Sangrur, highlighting demand of distribution of Nazul Zameen, and the 2 year protest in village of Shadihari, in which the demands have still not been met. Showing no mercy, the police attacked protesters in Shadihari, making many villagers go the hospital.
On 22nd March the Pendu Mazdoor Union staged a vociferous rally in Jalandhar from Desh Bhgat Memorial hall to the district collector’s office, raising demands for implementation of the land ceiling act of 1972, which disallowed more than 17 acres of land to be in possession of a farmer. They asserted that today the act is only nominal, with hundreds of acres of land in the hands of absentee landlords or politicians.
Leaders narrated the merciless land grabbing of the corporates and the denial of minimum wages promised to labourers. Demands were also raised for distribution of Panchayat land. Main speakers here were Tarsem Peter, Kashmir Singh Gugshore and Avatar Singh Rasalpur. Around 300 persons participated.
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements. Inputs: activists of Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Committee, Punjab



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.

Biden urged to warn Modi: US can declare India as worst religious freedom offender

By Our Representative  During a Congressional Briefing held on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, Nadine Maenza, former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has wondered why the Biden administration should raise issues of mass anti-minority mob violence  -- particularly in Haryana and Manipur -- with Modi. Modi should be told that if such violence continues, the US will be “compelled by law” to designate India as one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, she urged.

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.

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. 

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".

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.

Evading primary responsibility, ONGC decides to invest Rs 15,000 crore in sick subsidiary

By NS Venkataraman*  It is reported that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will infuse about Rs 15,000 crore in ONGC Petro-additions Ltd (OPaL) as part of a financial restructuring exercise. ONGC currently holds 49.36 per cent stake in (OPaL), which operates a mega petrochemical plant at Dahej in Gujarat. GAIL (India) Ltd has 49.21 per cent interest and Gujarat State Petrochemical Corporation (GSPC) has the remaining 1.43 per cent.

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.

Sales, profits of Indian firms 'deteriorate', yet no significant increase in cost pressures

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad's (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), a monthly exercise, has said that while cost perceptions data does not indicate significant increase of cost pressures, sales and profits of the Indian firms have deteriorated.

'State-sanctioned terror': Stop drone attack on Adivasis, urge over 80 world academics

Counterview Desk  A joint statement, “Indigenous Peoples’ Un-Freedoms and Our Academic Freedom: A Call for Solidarity”, endorsed by over 80 signatories, including international academics, activists and civil society organizations, as well as diasporic Indian academics and researchers, working with Adivasi (indigenous) communities in India, has made an urgent appeal to prevent future drone bomb attacks by the Indian state on Adivasi villages.