Update on the Indian Farmers’ Movement
– J. Singh –
Canvas thanks to Canadian artist Mary Joyce
On September 20, a mahapanchayat (mass meeting) of farmers was held in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of farmers in nearby districts attended and expressed their resolve to continue their struggle until three anti-farmers laws are withdrawn by the central government and a Minimum Support Price for their produce is guaranteed. They also said that Faslon Ke Faisle Kisan Karega (Farmers will decide about produce). Several leaders of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (the United Front of Farmers) also spoke at the rally. They said that this is a fight for Fasal Aur Nasal (Crops and the coming generations).
On September 19, 2021, a mahapanchayat was held in Kala Bakra, Punjab, to pay tribute to more than 650 farmers that have died at the morchas. Many farmers said that we keep changing governments by voting but the system does not change. We need to change the system. The fight is between Dhan Shakti (Money Power) and Jan Shaktii (People’s Power). Jan Shakti has to defeat Dhan Shakti, which has enslaved us. Elections are all about Dhan Shakti. The day is not far when Jan Shakti will defeat Dhan Shakti.
A young farmer recited a verse from the great poet of Punjab, Baba Farid:
Charhde Suraj Dhalde Vekhe (we have seen the setting sun of those who claimed it will never set).
Another farmer pointed out that we are being looted by law now.
The day after the All-India Bandh (shut down) on September 27 to protest against the anti-farmer, anti-worker and anti-people actions and policies of the Indian ruling elite, their state and government, on September 28 they will commemorate the 114th anniversary of the death of the great patriot Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
From September 22 to 26, farmers held Kabbadi matches at their morchas. Kabbadi teams from different parts of India are participating in these tournaments. Thousands of people joined. (The first World Kabbadi Cup tournament was held under the leadership of Hardial Bains in Vancouver, Canada in 1981.)
Farmers held mahapanchayats and other manifestations across India in the week prior to the All India shutdown. A massive rally was held in Tamil Nadu and mass meetings took place in Lucknow, Varanasi, Patna and many other places across the country. In a mahapanchayat in Amarkot, Punjab, farmers called on people to hold leaders accountable and question leaders of political parties in small gatherings about promises they made and did not fulfil. Some suggested that these leaders be asked to sign legal documents for which they can be sued. These mahapanchayats have become instruments to discuss issues that concern the people. New songs, poems and plays expressing these themes are also being performed.
Several youth said that we also have to be self-critical and look at things frankly. They said we have to fight against backward customs that discriminate on the basis of caste and gender. They said we have to take responsibility and carry out social reforms. They spoke against dowries that pauperize farmers. They said these Kaurdian and Sachiyan Gallan (honest and bitter conversations) also need to take place among ourselves. They said our Gurus fought against all these customs and we have forgotten that.
Many farmers pointed out that the ruling elite has poisoned our waters, our soil, destroyed our seeds, taken control of electricity produced using our waterways and now they want our lands. This will not pass, they said.
The Congress Party in Punjab appointed a new chief minister, replacing Raja Amrinder Singh, who was completely discredited. The new chief minister is Dalit and considered very dynamic. But farmers pointed out that he will not be able to do anything in spite of his claims that it will be a people’s government because the Punjab government is by law completely subservient to the central government. It has no standing as far as these anti-farmer laws are concerned. They also pointed out that it was the Congress government of Manmohan Singh which started the ball rolling of anti-farmer laws. Analysts pointed out that the appointment of a Dalit chief minister in Punjab reflects the assertion of the Dalits who comprise 33 per cent of the population and have been rising up. To safeguard its own survival, the Congress Party has made this move in Punjab.
A newly published report points out that the Indian government under-reported Covid deaths by 25-30 times. Research was carried out jointly by several universities in India and other countries that released its conclusions. Other similar reports were published earlier. It is the habit of the ruling elite to rule by disinformation, deception and fraud. The last 75 years have been a trajectory of deception, disinformation and fraud. According to another international study, India ranks top among 136 countries on disinformation spread by official and non-official sources on the Covid virus and pandemic.
The results of a recent survey pointed out that the majority of people in India do not trust the judiciary and do not think that they can get justice through the courts. There are serious barriers to access and long delays to get a hearing in the courts. Money and muscle play their role as well. There is a deep crisis of credibility and legitimacy of all institutions of the Indian state.
Demonstrations were organized against the Modi government in New York City and Washington DC by Indian residents abroad and their friends on September 23 and 24.