Rewriting History

To rebel is Justified

Harsh Thakor

The Peasants of India belonging to 32 different organisations of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Commitee (AIKSCC) have literally written a new chapter in history after igniting a spark into a Prairie fire. There is hardly an adjective in the dictionary that can do justice to the extent of intensity or relentless spirit of the peasant agitators. Facing the deepest depths of despair and thwarted by impregnable police barriers they revealed death defying courage of an army. It was not just the vast numbers which climbed over 10 lakh but the great qualitative or electrifying impact it had striking the ruling classes in their very backbone. Now the self-immolation of a Sikh Sant has added a new dimension to the on-going agitation.

The greatest credit for galvanisng the combat forces and their crystallisation in such magnitude goes to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugarhan). It motivated over one and a half lakh people, including around 50000 women alone. More than 50% of the protestors were the youth which was a positive trend. It was a perfect illustration of their surgical mass line practice. It confronted any type of legalism or economism to the core, by sustaining the agitation when other organisations decided to withdraw.

It may take a book to describe the most soul searching scenes at Tikri, Singhu, Jharoda, Ghazipur and Chilla, areas at the border of Delhi. The farmers confronted the teargassing, cold water cannons and barricades of the police weathering the chilliest of temperatures, with courage in proportions of Vietcong challenging the might of America in the Vietnam war. It was reminiscent of a boulder weathering the most turbulent of storms or gales. It set up Langars, established base camps, raised slogans waved flags and pounded tractors in. With the great methodology of an architect or surgeon it chalked out strategic points to agitate.

Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa), Nauawan Bharat Sabha and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union supported the movement.It speaks volumes of the painstaking class-mass work to sharpen essence of revolutionary democratic politics has been undertaken at the very base. This effort of Ugrahan group with the best ever mass organised protests of the poor peasantry in world history, deserves wide political attention. For one thing most intellectuals have failed to portray the distinguishing features of the Ugrahan group in this development.

Speeches were continuously made highlighting how the agricultural bills were neo-fascist in character .In depth they summarised how it gave Corporates a licence to plunder the Indian peasantry by having a total monopoly in dictating prices or obtaining land. The speakers elaborated how now the Corpoaraes had a complete monopoly over the public distribution system and thus morally were a far greater menace to the peasantry than the traditional middlemen.

The new system would ensure profit for the corporate houses and imperialist multinational corporations by depriving people of essential commodities. The new Acts would also increase black marketing and artificial glut and scarcity in the market. The leaders stated that this agitation was an attempt to save a profession like agriculture and to ensure food security to the nation. This is the reason that the agitation is getting support from people across the country and different walks of life.

The connivance of opposition parties be it the Congress or Aam Admi party or Akali Dal was exposed in no uncertain terms explaining that their economic policies were an integral part of the semi-feudal,semi-colonial state and thus in essence not different from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However still the main attack was on the Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata party illustrating how it blessed imperialism at crescendo never reached before or patronising corporates more than any ruling party ever did in India. The expression on the faces of the peasantry was the very writing on the wall on the semi-slavery they were subjected to. The relevance of a broad united front of all democratic classes was brought to the fore.

In recent days it even highlighted how Industrial families were seizing Panchayat land and violating the Punjab Village Common land rule of 1964. They narrated how the state has about one and a half lakh acres of panchayat land and their contracts and make crore of rupees. The intention of looting the panchayat lands is a direct raid on the interests and rights of the poor farmers

The heroic role of the Kirti Kisan Union and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha who most qualitatively shimmered the spark of resistance and also mobilised a significant Dalit landless labour section must be recognised because it has opened a new possibility of a broad united front. Around 20,000 farmers participated from Kirti Kisan Union who placed accent on the fascist rule unleashed by the centre and how it was empowering itself to crush all federal status of Punjabi people. In recent days some very notable work has been undertaken by the Punjab Students Union in solidarity and consolidation. Many convoys of Punjab Students Union are on their way to Delhi. No organisations have mobilsed the Dalit agricultural labour Community as these forces have done.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) has also risen to the hour significantly.

Sadly some important leaders of Kirti Kisan Union accused the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) of sabotaging the movement by destroying the collective spirit. This was countered by many intellectuals and refuted by Urgahan activists themselves who explained that only by prolonging resistance can any revolutionary alternative path be paved. Even an ex-cadre from their camp to the core was critical of the comments of Sardara Singh Mahil and Rajinder. Publicly such leaders expressed that the BKU(Ugrahan) hosting a langar at the initial stages near the border was derogatory. However the Ugrahan group gave no counter statement in light that it would cause friction amongst the participants.

Almost every day interviews were carried out with Joginder Singh Ugrahan, the president of the BKU.

On 4th December BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) continued its protest at Tikri border where protesters occupied a few kms of road and established five stages to address the gatherings. Shingara Singh Mann, Jaswinder Singh Soma, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho, Zora Singh Nasrali of Punjab Khet Mazdoor union, Amolak Singh of PLS Manch, Amitoz Singh Maur of Punjab student Union (Shaheed Randhawa), Sushil Kumari, Rajesh Dhankar, Mukesh Khasa and Khushbir Kaur from Haryana addressed the gathering. The speakers explained that Modi government is responsible for the discomfort of the local community is facing due to ongoing agitation. It reiterated that this was an agitation for the security of the farmers as well as the food security of the country. (Sukhdev Khokri)

On 4th December BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) named five protest sites after the names of historical personalities representing the legacy of struggles leading up to the ongoing agitation against farm Bills passed by the Modi government.

The protest site spread over kilometres have been divided into cities named after these personalities—Baba Banda Singh Nagar, Chacha Ajit Singh Nagar, Bibi Gulab Kaur Nagar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura Nagar.

The leaders explained that the sites named after the legendary personalities manifest the progressive and secular character of the ongoing agitation against farm laws. The movement is in continuity with the glorious history created by struggling masses and that history inspires farmers, workers, women and youth to struggle against the injustice, they said.

Arguably never in Indian history has the base of Hindutva neo-fascism been given such a striking blow by democratic forces illuminating spark of liberation. There could hardly be a better illustration of the peasantry to establish its own striking power or how in essence the so- called neo-liberal economy is model or manifestation of proto-fascism gripping the entire nation.

Major solidarity has been undertaken in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc.

Very impactful solidarity demonstrations were undertaken by workers in industrial areas of Ludhiana.
It is also a significant development that many small traders, shopkeepers or businessmen have supported the struggle and even integrated with it.

The student and youth community most sporadically came out in support of the peasantry which must be welcomed.

One of the most inspiring instances of this agitation was how BKU women leader Harinder Bindu shimmered flame of resistance to mobilise over 10000 women. It paid a fitting a tribute to the valiant effort of the organised movement to make women an integral part of the agitation.

A most welcome development has been the support of top sportsmen and artists from Punjab. They wholeheartedly supported the farmers' struggle and expressed their desire to relinquish their awards or medals.

So far the leaders have shown great political maturity when participating in talks with the rulers .Another crucial aspect is that it should not just reduce the Dalit landless labour community into an appendage or cosmetic force but an integral part of the agitation. The working class must also be mobilised in tandem with the peasantry, highlighting its relationship with their day to day lives or class struggles. The country has never witnessed an agitation which has harnessed support from such a wide range of sections.

Vol. 53, No. 28, Jan 10 - 16, 2021