In the News
June 10, 2021
At the Farmers’ Encampments in India
On June 3, farmers at the encampments surrounding Delhi marked the 74th anniversary of the proclamation of the partition of India by the British. On June 3, 1947, the last British Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, declared that India would be partitioned into two dominions. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the All-India Muslim League, spoke after him and accepted the partition of India and creation of the Dominion of Pakistan. Then came Jawaharlal Nehru whose acceptance of partition made him the first Prime Minister of India. So too, Baldev Singh claimed to represent the Punjabi Sikh community in the processes of negotiations that resulted in the Partition of India in 1947, for which he became the first Minister of Defence of India. The Congress laid claim to secularism but nonetheless demanded that Punjab and Bengal also be divided on the basis of religion. Leaders of the Communist Party of India had already accepted partition and all the parties conspired with the British against the peoples of India. June 2 marks the date when Mountbatten presented the plans for the partition of India to all these people and they accepted it. Mahatma Gandhi, who had been saying, “partition over my dead body,” told Mountbatten that he had vowed to maintain silence and would not oppose it.
After the Second World War, once fascism was defeated and old colonialism was destroyed, the British knew that they could not stay in India on the old basis. They created a new basis through which they could maintain control over the reins of power and they created Pakistan as a listening post against the Soviet Union. They organized a dance of death and destruction in which millions of people were killed, many more were injured and more than 20 million were forced to leave their homes. The consequences are reverberating to this day. The day the partition of India was agreed to is indeed a black day in the annals of Indian history.
To this day, no government of India has investigated how many people were killed and how the mayhem was organized. Investigations by scholars and peoples’ commissions point out that the genocide of 1947 was very well planned and executed in the same manner as are all the communal massacres since then have been. However, more often than not, accounts of who organized the mayhem are used for purposes of keeping the people from drawing warranted conclusions so as to break with the past and constitute India on a modern basis which vests sovereign decision-making power in the people, not the rich and their foreign masters. This remains the greatest longing of the peoples of India, a longing that has gone unfulfilled since independence was engineered to keep power out of their hands.
June 5 marked the first anniversary of the promulgation of the anti-farmer ordinances by the BJP government. Hundreds of millions of farmers all across India burnt copies of the three black laws. In the sizzling summer heat of Tohana in Haryana, thousands of farmers and their families surrounded the city police station because the government had launched a provocation by attacking farmers, injuring many and arresting 27. Farmers forced the police to release all the arrested farmers and to accept responsibility for damaging many vehicles.
On June 6, 2021 Ghallughara Diwas (Genocide Day) was commemorated by the farmers at the encampments to mark the 37th anniversary of invasion of the Golden Temple and Punjab by the Indian state and government led by Indira Gandhi. Speaker after speaker at the encampments pointed out that it was an attack on the Right to Be of all peoples of India and that the Modi government has been launching similar attacks for the last seven years. “Indira’s spirit has entered Modi,” a young farmer poet said. Farmer leaders spoke about the continuation of the colonial policy of Divide and Rule by the cartel parties such as the Congress Party, BJP and others. They also pointed out that the attack on the Golden Temple created the conditions for the demolition of the Mosque at Ayodhya and the communal massacres which have taken place. They also spoke about the opposition to the killing of several farmers by the police in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh in 2017, which gave great impetus to the farmers’ movement.
On June 9, the farmers marked the 305th anniversary of the beheading of Banda Singh Bahadur in Delhi, who became the leader of the Sikhs and other peasants after the death of Guru Gobind Singh. Continuing the mission of the 10th guru, Banda Singh Bahadur led the tillers and toilers against the tyranny of the Moghuls. After defeating the Moghuls in the Battle of Sirhind, he gave the land to the tillers. On June 9, 1716 after the Moghul rulers tortured his comrades and pushed the heart of his infant son into his mouth, he was beheaded.
Farmers at all the encampments surrounding Delhi celebrated the life and work of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. They spoke about the great battles and sacrifices he led ordinary people to wage against Delhi and recalled that within 70 years of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s martyrdom, Punjabis subdued Delhi 19 times. Now, once again, Delhi is trying to snatch their lands from them, they pointed out. They vowed that following Banda Bahadur they will fight to the end for the repeal of the anti-farmer black laws to keep their lands.
Meanwhile, food, supplies and medicines keep pouring into the Morchas (encampments) from surrounding villages. Non-Resident Indians are also furnishing many supplies from abroad.