Punjab illuminates flame of protest against detention of Varavara Rao and other prisoners

Harsh Thakor

 The state of Punjab shimmered with a series of protests against the arrest of Varavara Rao and the other intellectuals detained, who were fabricated by the rulers in The Bhimrao Koregaon conspiracy case. Spark of resistance has engulfed many regions of Punjab with significant involvement of the peasantry and youth. No state in India has been able to galvanize forces to the extent of Punjab on this issue with boiling pot of indignation against fascism reaching its crescendo.

Although initiated by the Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab the mantle of protest against the arrests was taken up by several democratic organizations like the Punjab Koksabhyacharak Manch, Punjab Students Union Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Punjab Students Union(Shaheed Randhawa), Bhartaiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union,Krantikaki Pendu Mazdoor Union , Kiri Kisan Union, Tarksheel Society. Inquilabi Kendra etc. The lockdown prevented a state level gathering but with great organizational precision protests were staged in different districts. with flag marches and corner meetings. The areas encompassed for programmes included Patiala. Amritsar, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Moga, Muktsar,Mansa , Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Bathinda. The protests in the Malwa region constituted more of the peasantry and landless labourers while Northern areas comprised more of the intellectual sections. Prominent activists were Jagmohan Singh of AFDR., Amolak Singh of Punjab Loksabhyacharak Manch, Swaranjeet Singh of Lok Sangram Morcha,Laxman Sewewala of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union,Raminder Singh of Naujwan Bhrat Sabha, Tanveer Singh of Punjab Students Union. Overall 30 areas of Punjab were covered.

The best protest took place in Sangrur on 20th July comprising the Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union,Lok Sangram Manch and Zameen Prapt Sangrash Comitee.It was adressed by Sanjeev Mintu of Revolutionary agricultural labour Union ,Swaranjeet Singh of AFDR ,Rashpinder Jimmy of Punjab Radical Students Union ,Sukhwinder Pappi of ZPSC and Lal Chand of Jamhoori Morcha. Speakers adressed the arrest of Vara Vara Rao and urban intellectuals in context of ascendancy and onslaught of Hindutva fascism as a whole and in meticuluos depth summarized how the activists were foisted as conspirators. They narrated the connection between the most oppressive pro-corporate semi-feudal social order with the Hindutva ideology .Significant that area of Sangrur is the centre of the movement of the dalit agricultural labour for winning land rights of 1/3rd panchayat land .The cases of Gautam Navlakah, Anand Teltumbde and Sudha Bhradwaj were highlighted in addition to Vara Vara Rao and the fascist element of UAPA law was elaborated in detail. Examples were narrated of attack by police on campuses sin Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and Jamia university. Vociferously they condemned the detention of the prisoners inspite of prevalence of Corona epidemic in their jails

AFDR unit of Bathinda with great effect ignited torch of protest striking the saffron rulers ideologically in their very belly. With deep depth it touched upon how democracy was hit in its very backbone with the fascination of the state.

In Babri Ghadr hall in Jalandhar and impactful meeting was staged highlighting how imperialism patronized such arrests which virtually continued the colonial legacy.

In Barnala Stri Jagriti Manch staged an impressive protest of around 25 women in solidarity against the arrests. Jalandhar town also had a vociferous protest of women on 20th July. in 15 areas.

Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union organized small but qualitative protests in Bathinda, Malout, Faridkot, Lambi Sangrur and Muktsar, jointly with their 2 day dharna confronting monopoly private micro-finance corporations. and demanding cancellation of debts.

Punjab Students Union and Naujwan Bharat Sabha mobilized students and youth in rallies in Moga, Sangrur and Patiala, staging most qualitative protests. They highlighted the issue of Bhima Rao Koregaon conspiracy when commemorating martyrdom of Prithipal Singh Randhawa. Noteworthy that it coincided with the preparation of the work to organize dalit agricultural labour for a rally resist oppression of micro-finance companies on 24th July.

Commemorating the 41st death anniversary of martyr Prithipal Singh Randhawa the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) highlighted how the arrest of the urban intellectuals was a duplication of the opression Randhawa faced in his days as a leader and how his example should be emulated today to confront the Neo-fascism prevailing.

Small but notable demonstrations were also held in Nawnashr, Mansa and Rampura villages.

Very significant that inspite of all curbing of assembly because of Corona pandemic, resilience was all the more intense against proto-fascism. Positive that the activists could propagate the issue relating it to the day to day struggles of the masses. Involvement of basic classes was heartening. Democratic forces should salute the forces of Punjab for rising to the very hour, living up to the very democratic tradition of Punjab.

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Jul 27, 2020

Harsh Thakor

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