In the News
Farmers in India Mark One Year of Encampments at Delhi Border
– J. Singh –
The farmers in India are responding to the Modi Government’s announcement that it will repeal the three farm laws the farmers and their allies have been protesting without letup day in and day out for more than a year by saying they will not decamp from the borders of Delhi until they see the new law signed and sealed. They have also clearly stated that this is not the end of their fight since already the government is trying to achieve the same aim, which is to expropriate their lands to benefit the narrow private corporate interests, through other means. They are clear that the announcement is an election ploy.
As part of marking the one-year anniversary of the encampments surrounding Delhi, Sanyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organization of farmers forged in the struggle, has decided to send groups of 500 farmers to the Indian parliament every day, starting on November 29. On November 26, massive rallies will be held to mark the arrival of farmers at the Delhi borders, having to smash their way through the police barricades in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to do so.
A farmers’ mahapanchayat (mass meeting) was organized by the youth in Kala Sangha, Kapurthala, Punjab on November 6. Thousands of farmers came and spoke fearlessly about their resolve to keep fighting until the anti-farm laws are repealed. A young farmer pointed out that in the recent polls, the BJP has suffered a setback in 13 states, because the farmers movement has become a people’s movement across India. Another farmer pointed out that he has just returned from Kerala where people are holding rallies in support of farmers. He said that in Kerala, small tea farmers are all gone; the big monopolies have gobbled up their lands. Adani is building a huge port there; as a result small fishers are being put out of business. Due to the structure and laws, the Kerala government is not empowered to do anything on these matters. Kerala has a left-front government, but it is not able to defend the rights of people. We have to find solutions to this problem, the farmer pointed out. No matter which party is in power, it does not or cannot serve the interests of the people.
On November 6, farmers at the morchas (protest encampments) surrounding Delhi celebrated the 35th anniversary of the death of Punjabi poet Sant Ram Udasi. His revolutionary poems and songs became songs of toilers and youth in the ’70s and ’80s. His songs inspired an entire generation, giving encouragement to all those who are fighting for a life of dignity and justice.
One of his songs became a great inspiration for farmers, workers, students, women, Dalits and all the oppressed:
Hardiyan de haaniyo Te sauniyan de saathiyo, kar lo dratiyan tiyaar
Chuko ve hathodeyan nun, ag kadho patharan chon, aj sanun lordi de angar
(Comrades of winter and summer crops, sharpen your sickles, lift your hammers, smashing rocks produce fire, we are in need of sparks)
He came from a Dalit background and his poetry decried all the indignities that are heaped on Dalits. He was tortured by the police agencies to silence him but they could not dampen his spirits.
In Tripura, Muslims are being attacked by goons organized by affiliates of the BJP, under the watchful eyes of the agencies of the state and central government. Charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) have been slapped on more than 100 people, including two lawyers of the Supreme Court of India, who were part of a fact-finding committee.
In Gauhati, Assam area, Sikhs are being evicted from their lands by the state, despite having settled there a long time ago. It is part of the strategy of the ruling elite to cause bloodshed by inciting religious hatred and attacks.
In Yuba City, California on November 7, thousands of people gathered to support the Indian farmers. They condemned the Indian state and its attacks on the farmers and attempts to divide the unity of people by attacking them on a religious basis. Singers, youth, women, farmers, city councillors all condemned the Indian government for its anti-farmers laws.
On November 7 many also marked the 104th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. It opened a new path and established a first state of workers, farmers and other toilers. For the first time it provided universal franchise, free education, free health care and created a base for further achievements by the toilers. Many Indian revolutionaries, farmers and workers travelled to this new state to see with their own eyes what was being done by the workers. The Ghadar Party sent delegations to meet the leader of this Revolution, V.I. Lenin and others. The lessons of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the dismantling of the first workers state by counter-revolution continue to inspire people across the world to work out their strategy for renewal and renovation.
November 7 was also the 159th anniversary of the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, who became leader of the great revolt of 1857, known as India’s First War of Independence. Zafar was 81 years old when the revolt broke out. He was a great poet and used his pen for the cause of the people and edited a paper called Payam E Azadi. The British considered this paper so dangerous that mere possession was considered a crime worthy of the death sentence. The British beheaded all his sons. They presented him with the heads of two of his sons on a platter, as punishment for his work. His couplets calling for revolt still ring in the streets of Delhi. He was exiled to Burma and died in Rangoon on November 7,1862. One of the poems says:
Ek Aur Karo Dhava Dilli, Mazdooro Aur Kisano Aaj
Is Zulm Sitam Ki Nagari Ki, Eent Se Eent Baja Do Aaj
Awaz Zafar Ki Koochon Mein, Yeh Goonj Ghadar Ki Muhallon Mein
(One more assault against Delhi, Oh! Toilers of India
To smash the citadels of oppression and exploitation
Lanes, streets and neighbourhoods are echoing the call of Zafar)
(Photos: Kisan Ekta Morcha, Humanity First, N. Singh, S. Bal)