Farmers’ organizations in Punjab on the path of struggle

Report by correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Committee

Farmers’ organizations of Punjab have launched a struggle demanding adequate compensation for damage to crops caused by floods and untimely rains.

Farmers' organizations of Punjab Due to untimely rains in the month of July, several districts of Punjab were hit by floods. People of many villages were rendered homeless. Thousands and thousands of acres of paddy crops of farmers were destroyed by flooding. Animals drowned. Neither the central government nor the state government has paid attention to this crisis of the farmers. A joint organisation of 16 farmer unions in Punjab are waging a struggle over the demand of compensation for the damage caused by the floods in Punjab and Haryana and also over several other demands. This joint alliance includes Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), BKU (Ekta Azad), Azadi Kisan Committee (Doaba), BKU (Bahram) and Bhoomi Bachao Mohim, etc.

The agitating farmers are demanding compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for crop loss, Rs 5 lakh for a damaged home and Rs 10 lakh to the family for death of a family member. They are demanding compensation for the death of cattle and damage to the borewell. Apart from this, they are demanding a permanent solution to flooding, permission to lift sand filled in the fields, loan waiver for one year, MSP for 23 crops, and a guarantee under MNREGA for up to 200 days of work in a year.

Farmers' organizations of Punjab On 18th August 2023, a delegation of farmer unions held talks with the Punjab government. In the course of that conversation, the Punjab government accepted only a limited number of the demands of the farmers. The state government set aside the remaining demands with the argument that these are the responsibility of the central government.

In protest against this, the farmers organized an indefinite strike on 22nd August 2023 in Chandigarh. The state police and security forces tried to forcefully stop the dharna and arrested and detained the office bearers and workers of various farmer unions. In protest against this, farmers demonstrated at police stations and toll plazas in various districts.

Farmers staged a dharna in Mehna village of Moga district. The dharna started after the police stopped the farmer groups from reaching Chandigarh 22nd August. In Kapurthala, a dharna was staged at the Dhilwan toll plaza under the leadership of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee. There the police detained 44 farmer leaders and locked them up in three police stations.

In Ferozepur and Faridkot also, farmers organized massive protests against the arrests of some farmers.

In Longowal area of district Sangrur, the police forcefully stopped the convoy of farmers going towards Chandigarh on Bathinda-Chandigarh Road. The police tried to arrest the leaders of farmers’ organization BKU (Azad), which was strongly opposed by the farmers. A farmer died after coming under the tractor during the protests. Many farmers were injured. Police registered serious cases against many farmers. Angry farmers demonstrated outside the police station.

In Tarn Taran, the head of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Sarwan Singh Pandher, Surjit Singh Bahram and many other peasant leaders were taken into custody. Many leaders and office bearers of other farmer unions were put under house arrest in their own homes and police guards were posted outside. A large number of farmers took to the streets to protest against this action of the police. The farmers sat on a dharna near the toll plaza. Apart from this, such dharnas were organized at many other places.

An attempt was made to stop the farmers’ protests by deploying a large number of police on the borders of Chandigarh. Hundreds of leaders and workers of farmers’ organizations from Haryana were taken into custody at Shambhu Border, Ambala.

But the farmers’ struggle, through protests and dharnas at various places, has continued unabated.

According to the latest news, due to the unrelenting struggle of the farmers, the Punjab government has again called the representatives of the farmer unions for talks on 4th September.

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