Four months after the kisan andolan suspended its protests at the borders of Delhi, following the central government’s withdrawal of the three anti-kisan laws, kisan organisations in Punjab, Haryana and other states are actively mobilising the people to continue the struggle.
The kisan organisations are pointing out that the written assurance of fulfilling all the remaining demands of the kisans, that the PM had given them in December 2021, after which they had withdrawn their protests at the Delhi borders, was a mere eyewash. To this day, no steps have been taken by the government on setting up a committee to determine MSPs for various crops. Police cases against the agitating kisans have not yet been withdrawn as promised. Many kisans continue to remain in custody. The families of kisans who lost their lives in the agitation have not yet received the promised compensation. Ajay Mishra Teni, the main culprit responsible for the murder of agitating kisans in Lakhimpur Kheri remains unpunished. The kisan organisations have realised that they need to come together and step up the andolan, in different parts of Punjab as well as all over the country, for the realisation of their demands.
We report below on some of the recent protest actions of kisans in Punjab:
On March 29, kisan organisations held a massive rally at the Bhagtanwala grain market in Amritsar. Kisans, including large numbers of women, from Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts gathered at the grain market and resolved to continue the struggle. They paid tributes to those who lost their lives in the kisan agitation. They demanded restoration of the rights of the state of Punjab in the Bhakra Beas Management Board. They extended support to the two-day all India strike of trade unions and workers’ organisations.
The rally was organised by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee-Punjab. Speakers criticised the central government for going back on its promises made at the time of withdrawal of the andolan in December 2021. They also condemned the government for failing to fulfil its promise of doubling kisans’ incomes and for creating unnecessary hurdles in the procurement of wheat crop during the current season as well as for raising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
Hundreds of kisans protested outside the Lambi sub-tehsil in Muktsar district of Punjab, on March 29, under the banner of BKU Ekta (Ugrahan). They were protesting against the long-delayed compensation for pink bollworm damage to their cotton harvests. As part of the agitation, they gheraoed government officials inside a sub-tehsil office for several hours. Police lathi charged the protesting kisans, causing injuries to several kisans. Police also filed FIRs against some of the agitating kisans.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and other kisan unions organised a campaign of regular meetings and door-to-door activities at village, block and district levels, starting from Bhatinda on April 7. This was a part of the all-India protest call by the SKM, to observe the ‘MSP guarantee week’ from April 11 to 17. A state-level meeting was also held at Ludhiana, in which representatives of 12 kisan unions participated.
Kisans in the border areas of Punjab held a protest under the banner of Punjab Border Area Kisan Union, in front of the local District Administration Complex (DAC) in Tarn Taran on March 29. They said that according to the policy of the Union Government, Rs 10,000 per acre is to be paid as compensation to the kisans whose land has been taken over for border fencing, which was still pending for the past 4 years. They demanded early payment of this compensation as well as compensation for the land taken over by the BSF for border patrolling. They presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.
On March 25, hundreds of kisans, under the banner of SKM, gathered in front of the Gurdwara Shri Amb Sahib in Mohali. They called for continuing the struggle until all the promises that the central government had made at the time of revoking the three farm laws, are fulfilled. Their other demands include withdrawal of the Dam Safety Act-2021 passed by Parliament, whose aim is to hand over the waters and power of the dams built on the rivers of the country to corporate houses, and revocation of the decision to end permanent representation of Punjab and Haryana members in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
Earlier the same day, the farmers took out a tractor march to the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh but were stopped by the Chandigarh Police at the YPS chowk. They then sat on a dharna near the Geeta Mandir on the Mohali-Chandigarh border. Later, a 35-member kisan delegation submitted a memorandum to the President of India through the Punjab governor and also handed the charter of their demands to the Haryana governor.
In Rohtak, on March 22, several kisan organisations held a dharna and a protest march from the Jat dharamshala to the Karnal mini secretariat. They handed over a memorandum to the city magistrate.
Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) announced on April 21 that is will launch an agitation against the Punjab government, to oppose the strong-arm measures being adopted by cooperative banks for recovery of debts from kisans. The union pointed out that the state government has given directions to different government departments to take stringent measures for recovery of debt from kisans. The Union declared that it will resolutely oppose arrest of kisans and attachment of their properties. The union pointed out that this year, wheat yield has come down substantially. Kisans cannot afford to pay their debt instalments. They have demanded that the entire debt of small-scale farmers be waived immediately.
The continuing agitations of kisans shows that kisans are in no mood to accept the false promises of the central government.