The peasant agitation that has been going on the border of Haryana and UP with Delhi at Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur, Chilla, Dhansa, Bahadurgarh, etc. marked 18th January as “Mahila Kisan Diwas” (Woman Peasant’s Day). This day was marked to recognise the exemplary partnership of women peasants in the ongoing agitation and their unprecedented contribution to every aspect of this movement.
On this day women were in commanding positions in all activities at the dharna sites – from conducting the stage to security. Under their command, programs of the day were very well conducted without interruptions and in a peaceful manner.
Women have been very active in the mobilization in their villages against the farm bills since the summer and while more and more women join the protest camps at the Tikri and Singhu borders, many others continue to organize in the local areas, as well as, run their family farms, while other family members participate at the Delhi borders.
Purogami Mahila Sangathan participated in a rally at the dharna site at Tikri Border with slogans – “Long live the Mahila Kisan Diwas”, “Long live the unity of workers and peasants” and “Repeal all three anti-farmers Acts”. In the meeting held at Pakoda Chowk in Bahadurgarh, speakers explained how the government has passed these laws to serve the narrow interests of the big companies who want to extract massive profits from the land and labour of the peasants.
In the course of hearing on the farm laws, on 11th January, the Chief Justice of India had asked why women and the elderly were “being made to participate” in the dharna, and even suggested that the Court may pass an order in this regard! Many women participating in the dharna and all over the country rejected this suggestion. They declared that they were at the protest because they have always fought shoulder to shoulder with the men against injustice. They would not return till the laws were repealed.
The Purogami Mahila Sangathan speaker pointed out that in the existing system, the situation of the peasants does not improve with one government replacing the previous one. All governments are directed by the big monopoly houses and they say one thing while doing something altogether different. Policies are decided by the monopoly houses and are based on further exploitation of workers and peasants. This system works to benefit only a handful of monopoly houses – it is not loktantra but poonjitantra. She said that we, the toiling majority are today fighting a dharm yudh. This war is between the exploited and the exploiters. The ruler has failed to discharge its responsibility towards the ruled. Such a ruler and such a system will have to be uprooted. The State that cannot ensure the prosperity and security of its people has no right to remain in power. We have to advance the struggle for the navnirmaan of the system. We must establish a new political power which will ensure that people are the decision-makers and which will guarantee prosperity and security for all.
The call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha to celebrate 18th January 2021 as Mahila Kisan Diwas was taken up enthusiastically all over India. In Thane, a meeting to celebrate the day was held by activists from Lok Raj Sangathan, Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Matdata Jagran Abhiyan, Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti, and other organisations and individuals. A large number of women and men across communities participated in this meeting.
The meeting opened with an explanation on how the three anti-peasant laws will adversely affect the peasants, people in general and specifically women and called on everyone to support the demand for repeal of the three laws as well as the demand for guaranteed MSP for all crops. The role of the women in agricultural work and their active participation in the dharna was highlighted.
Speakers pointed out that armed forces have joined the protest in many places and even returned their hard-earned medals. They saluted the agitating peasants, including the elderly, the youth, and the women at the Delhi border who were enduring the harsh weather and fighting for the rights of the people. They pointed out that workers in various sectors are also fighting against privatization and that youth are coming out in support of the struggle of the peasants and workers. Even though the mainstream media is trying to distract the youth, youngsters can see on social media channels that mainstream media is not telling the truth. They can see how peasant organisations are working together at the protest sites, how food is being prepared for thousands of people every day, how various basic services are being made available.
Speakers explained that the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 will enable the stock-piling of essential commodities, which was earlier illegal. This will affect common people extremely adversely because food prices will soar to absolutely unaffordable levels. The experience of people from different parts of the world shows that people fighting for their rights are routinely being labelled terrorists.
They pointed out that laws are made without asking the people who are most affected. If the government thinks something is for our benefit, why don’t they ask us first? What is this Republic that doesn’t consult with its people? First they make a law forcefully, and then when crores of people take to the streets to protest, they ask us to take permission for the protest! For the first time since 1947 there are borders within the country. We cannot travel to our own capital city. The government has resorted to digging up roads instead of building them. Electric wires which are installed at the borders are now being thrown on the roads to stop protestors. What kind of democracy is this? Every day thousands of people are on the streets for various reasons: Anti-CAA protests, against privatization, agri-laws, labour codes, etc.
We should work to change this system. The peasants at Delhi border have presented a vision of a new society. Singhu border is the safest place in this country for women. Any woman can walk there at any hour. At the protest, everybody sits together and eats together. Nobody is asked their caste or religion. In conclusion, it was said that this struggle belonged to everyone. The struggle has not only exposed the real nature of the existing system but also demonstrated that working people have a vision for the future of society.