Farmers’ Movement Holds Steady
– J. Singh –
The farmers’ movement in India is deepening and broadening. On March 26 an All-India shutdown took place. On April 5, all the Food Corporation of India godowns (a type of warehouse) were surrounded in 736 districts of India, because officials have been asking to see a copy of land revenue certificates (LRCs) before they will buy the produce. This is yet another way to harass farmers. Youth organized a massive rally in Sangrur, Punjab, where thousands of farmers gathered. Leaders of the farmers also joined. It turned into a report back and summation of the last nine months. The problems which had appeared at each step were discussed and how each was resolved through mass democracy. A frank, open and productive discussion took place.
A baba (grandfather/respected elder) said that it was a misfortune for farmers and Punjab to have them divided along party lines. He said, “I was a founding member of the Farmers’ Union of Punjab in 1972. But our misfortune was that this union got divided into more than 30 organizations. I thank Modi for creating conditions that bring us all together irrespective of our political or religious affiliations and we have developed Unity in Action against the anti-farmer laws.”
A young student leader said, “Our fighting spirit had become rusty. We talked about the fighting spirit of the Gurus, Dulla Bhatti, Banda Bahadur Singh, Bhagat Singh and others, but were not conscious of what plans are being made against people by sweet-talking politicians of the Akali, Congress, Aam Admi Party, CPI(M) and others. It is to the credit of the farmers and their sons and daughters that they got together and made sense of these laws and united all the people. Now it is a life and death battle against those who want to steal our lands. It is an assault by corporations to capture our land, food and everything that we need.”
Another baba had everybody in stitches. He asked everyone in the audience to raise their hand if they will transfer their land to their son while living. Nobody raised their hand. Then he said, “If we don’t fight, the corporations will take away our land that you are not even willing to give to your son. You will be turned into slaves and beggars.”
A young singer expressed the determination of the farmers in a verse:
Jadon Tain Mod Di Ni Kaale Kanoon Diliye
Hik Te Teri Tractor Chahrd Ke Baithange
(Until you repeal the anti-farmer laws,
We will keep tractors on your chest, Oh Delhi)
A young farmer said that he graduated with a law degree, travelled the world visiting relatives and now works on the land with his family. He said we have developed our own vision of a new society Sarbat Da Bhala (Well-Being of All) based on the teachings of our Gurus, Bhagats, Sufis, Ghadari Babas and the experience of world’s people. We are quite capable of building our own future. He said there are some self-appointed “leaders” running around telling us that farmers are the “motive force” and they are the “leading force.” They say the farmers have to be led by them. But we are our own leaders and are quite competent at solving society’s problems. We are fed up with those who want to “lead us.” Watch out for such “leaders,” he said.
A cavalcade of one of the farmers’ legitimate leaders was attacked with gunshots and stones in Rajasthan. Farmers blocked several highways. Four persons connected with BJP have been arrested. Many actions are planned by farmers and other toilers in the coming days. On April 10, KMP highway — a beltway around Delhi — will be jammed for 24 hours. On April 13, the founding of the Khalsa as a force against oppression will be celebrated. On the same day, the anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre will be commemorated. On April 14, on the anniversary of the birth of B.R. Ambedkar, the violation of rights and draconian laws by the government will be highlighted on Constitution Day. May Day will be celebrated at the protest sites. In the first week of May, a March on Parliament is being planned by farmers and toilers from across India.
March 26 All-India Shutdown
(Photos: Bku Ekta Urgrahan, C. Singh, M. Punia, S. Malik, R. Schachbush)