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Punjab Peasant Struggle Protesting Anti-people Agricultural Laws

Harsh Thakor

The intensity of a war has been built up in Punjab like an inferno by the farming community, protesting the wrath of the three 2020 agricultural labour bills and Electricity bill. The scenes at railways stations, petrol pumps or malls were reminiscent of a deluge. With the relentlessness of a great army confronting tyranny the Punjab peasantry have confronted the ruling classes at the very boiling point. The spark of resistance lit has spread like wildfire engulfing a huge area, shimmering at a crescendo. The crystallization of democratic revolutionary forces and polarisation against those of the enemy camp of the ruling classes has reached its sharpest point.

I hardly have an adjective to express my admiration for the tenacity as well as methodical planning of the farmers Organizations.

Spearheading the struggle is the evergreen Bharatiya Kisan Union(Ugrahan) which has taken the resistance to a height close to optimum. Most courageously it has defied the barricades of the police and obstruction of the administration. It has chalked out a path which is of variance to the general trend of the agitation, practicing militancy and uncompromising spirit. It has hit the twin enemies of imperialism and feudalism at the very core. Rarely in Indian history has an agitation of the landed peasantry reached such volumes. in attacking the economic base of the ruling classes.

I was most impressed with the area wise allocation of resistance by the BKU (Ugrahan) galvanizing its forces in perfect tune with the situation with regard to evaluate subjective .forces. It displayed the tenacity of a boulder resisting the strongest of gales and methodology of an architect to send shivers down the spine of the rulers. There have been unforgettable scenes of confrontation with the police, particularly of women. Rarely in the history of Punjab have the corporate been so embarrassed or their agenda confronted so acutely. The continuity of enforcing such resistance in 43 areas for over 39 days speaks volumes of the massline approach of the BKU (Ugrahan), resembling a fortified army.

What was above all most significant was its targeting of the 43 offices of the Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which confronted Hindutva fascism in its very belly. Through gheraoing the BJP party leader's houses they attacked the anti-people party agenda at the very backbone, exposing how it patronized corporates looting of the peasantry. Hundreds or thousands of peasants thronged the venues of protest. Leaders Yadwinder Santi in Barnala and Sunita Garg in Kokatpura were confronted in their very backyard outside their houses with protests of over 500 persons.

In Mansa on November 7th hundreds of farmers congregated in resistance to confront the police barricade while in Ludhiana the MBD  mall owned by Reliance  was gheraoed for a sustained period. Stores were also forced to shut in Dugri and Shaheed Bhagt Singh Nagar. A sustained embargo was unleashed outside the Reliance mall, which had political significance. Just yesterday in Garacho toll Plaza a most impactful gathering was held. adressed by Navjot Kaur and Harjinder Singh. Ironically yesterday the farmers again broke the police barricade at Mansa.

On festival of Dussehra at Pura Munak in Sangrur effigies of Modi, Ambani, and Adani were burnt by labourers, children, youth and a large number of women. This was symbolizing the neo-fascist nature of Corporate rule endorsed by the ruling BJP party.

Lok Kala Manch carried out an impactful cultural programme exposing the nefarious economic programme of the laws.

A very prominent demonstration was staged by women in a village.

The intensity of wrath was written on the faces of activists wishing to throw the devil into the deep sea.

The Kirti Kisan Union has also undertaken some sustained campaigns like on the day of the Chakka jam on November 5th. It blocked roads at Pragati Sahib at Ferozepur-Fazilka highway, Nawanshahar-Ganshahar and Khanauri-Pattar.The Warry Toll Plaza was also besieged on Sangrur-Delhi highway.

It organized major protests in Patiala, Moga, Gurdaspur, Bathinda, Hoshirapur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

The integration of the students and youth here is noteworthy with a youth wing formed recently of the Kirti Kisan Union.

The 32 other organizations although in firm opposition to the rulers at the centre for a while withdrew the blocking of railway lines but the Ugrahan group continued it .30 of the 32 protecting organizations complied with the state govt's demand to suspend the blocking of railway tracks after November 4th till the 20th,but the BKU (Ugrahan) and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee did not yield to it.

Kirti Kisan Union and BKU (Dakaunda) felt it was very sectarian approach of those 2 organisations not to comply with the 30 other groups and divest on their own path. Nevertheless in their areas of work they continue to gherao the toll plazas and malls.
Meticulous preparations are being undertaken for a rally on November 26th in the Capital of Delhi condemning agricultural ordinances .Democratic forces should look forward for a spark turning into a prairie fire in the Delhi rally.

An issue that has arisen which has become a sharp contention of debate is the issue of federalism on the issue of the farmers like demands of water. Here BKU(Ugrahan's) view strongly feel it is against the interests of the famers and against class politics while C.P.I.(M.L.) New Democracy and BKU (Dakaunda) feel it should be addressed adhere to the Ugrahan group view assessing this to be identity politics.

In the view of the leaders of the BKU(Ugrahan)the farmers agitation has been taken to a higher stage with a major advance of democratic resistance. A revolutionary democratic polarisation has been achieved with distinct demarcation from the ruling class agenda.

What is significant is the political lessons the Punjab peasantry is learning on how imperialism and capitalism is fused or integrated with the semi-feudal economy and how to devise a strategy to confront it. Activists must imbibe lessons in assessing the principal contradiction.

An important factor in the future will be ho with Dalit agricultural labour and Industrial working class is integrated with the struggle.

The agitation must not be allowed to capitalize the requirements of the rich peasantry, even if that class should not be isolate. Even if there are mutual disagreements within the democratic farmer’s organisation's camp the struggle must never diffuse.

All the 3 bills are manifestations of the strategy of globalization and liberalization which patronise the Corporates.

The 1st bill facilitates the loot of farmer’s grains or crops and planting of agricultural genes. It tunes the system to serve the food industry of the profitable businesses .Corporates are literally invited to the market and loot loot Nerma, pulses, corn, cotton, sugarcane and other crops. Support has only been given to wheat paddy growing. Crops can be bought below support price and the govt can build a business market .Farmers are literally forced to sell below support price due to absence of govt procurement. Originally such a law was banned in the Vidhan Sabha,but now been introduced again with minor amendments.

Punjab's second law ′′ Kisan Samjhota on price guarantee and agriculture service promotes domination of private markets who can now directly buy crops from the farmers There is also no disagreement on openings such as making private markets present in central law, agreement to buy crops directly from farmers, standing crop agreement. The company can refuse to buy crop from the farmer on basis of quality , and there is no arrangement to reverse it Punjab law. Similarly, central law gives companies the authority to open bank loans and infiltrate the agricultural sector.

The third law is the essential commodities bill-2020 This central law permits or gives the licence to big traders and businessmen to stop supply of grains and other essential fertilizers and takes no step to abort such a move. Now all legal procedures are quashed to facilitate supply of cheap grains. in conditions of price rise or natural disasters.

The laws grant traders to perform e-marketing and corporates to obtain land for a 15 year tenure. Free licence is given to businesses such as cleaning, storage, pre-cooling, pack houses, etcThere is no check on preventing loot of traders or Corporates. The central governments have been trying to make big companies in agricultural markets since the beginning of the new century. In the light of the Central APMC Model Act made in 2003, the then Captain Government of Punjab had made amendments and assisted in building private markets in the state. After that, this implementation has been going on and the central government has set up the route of the states for these so-called reforms. Many states have made company-friendly amendments to these laws using their rights on the instructions of the Central Government. Central Laws are the elements and direction of the amendments made by the Captain Government in 2017.

If you read the agriculture laws of Punjab, it can be said that this is nothing more than taking political advantage of the situation. The farmers of Punjab who are in the struggle should not expect anything from these laws, but they should sustain the struggle for complete return of central laws to provide for procurement of crops. Also, there should be a demand to cancel the anti-farmer amendments made in the state's agriculture market law.

Report written with reference from Sukhdev Singh Khokri, Secretary of BKU(Ugrahan)  and Rupinder Chaunda of Naujwan Bharat Sabha.

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Nov 21, 2020


Harsh Thakor thakor.harsh5@gmail.com

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