Kisans in Punjab, Haryana, UP and other parts of the country continue to wage struggles for assured public procurement of their produce at remunerative prices, MSP for all crops, for state subsidies for agricultural inputs, for better irrigation facilities, for loan waiver and against the Electricity Amendment Bill. Justice for the murder of agitating kisans in Lakhimpur Kheri and withdrawal of false police cases against agitating kisans are other important demands they are raising. Kisans are demanding that the government fulfill the assurances it gave to them in December 2021 on the basis of which they had withdrawn their dharna at the borders of Delhi.
Gherao of Punjab Chief Minister
Hundreds of kisans under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) launched an indefinite protest near the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in Sangrur district from October 9. The kisans were raising various demands, including compensation to farmers whose crop was damaged due to rain and pest attack, financial aid of Rs 200 per quintal for managing paddy stubble, adequate compensation to farmers for land acquisition, compensation to dairy farmers whose livestock died due to lumpy skin disease and MSP for crops such as maize, moong and basmati.
The agitating kisans blocked a 3 km stretch of road by parking their tractor-trolleys across the road.
The BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) had issued an ultimatum to the state government that if their demands are not accepted by October 15, then a gherao of the Chief Minister’s residence would be organised on October 20.
Thousands of kisans, including a large number of women and youth, marched from different parts of Punjab, to the venue of the gherao on October 20. The kisans carried rations, mattresses, cooking gas cylinders, fans and other essentials, in preparation for a prolonged protest dharna at the CM’s residence. They set up temporary shelters and a stage on the road, for the kisan leaders to address the protestors.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the kisans would continue the agitation until their demands are met.
Rail Roko protest in Punjab
Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee Punjab (KMSC) organised a massive rail-roko protest on October 3, in memory of the 5 kisans who had been killed in Lakhimpur Kheri a year ago.
Thousands of kisans and agricultural workers across Punjab blocked the main railway line at 16 places in 10 districts. In 8 districts — Muktsar, Mansa, Barnala, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar – the agitating kisans burnt effigies of the Chief Minister and protested against the central and state governments for not fulfilling the promises made to the kisans. In each protest site, floral tributes were paid to the martyred kisans.
Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee Punjab President Satnam Singh Pannu and Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher highlighted the main demands of the kisans in this agitation.
They were demanding that Ashish Mishra, the main accused in the Lakhimpur Khiri incident, should be immediately arrested and punished, and that his father Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni should be dismissed from the Union Cabinet. The notification of Power Distribution Act 2022 should be cancelled. The central government and Punjab government should make a law to guarantee the purchase of 23 crops. The government should provide free tools to the kisans for stubble management or Rs 7000 per acre, otherwise kisans would be forced to burn their stubble. They demanded compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for crops destroyed by floods including last year’s basmati and cotton.
Earlier, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee had organised militant protests on September 12 demanding adequate water for irrigation of their fields.
The protesting kisans pointed out that due to falling ground water levels, the Punjab, once a state with abundant river water, has been turned into a desert in less than a decade. This has been the result of promotion of crops requiring very high levels of irrigation. The kisans have accused the central and state governments of taking no concrete steps to deal with the problem. Thousands of kisans, agricultural workers, women and youth participated in these protest dharnas, in the districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Muktsar, Faridkot, Mansa, Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Pathankot and Malerkotla.
Kisans protest against land acquisition in Azamgarh
On October 22, kisans began a 11-day dharna against the land acquisition in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, for the construction of an airport. The protesting kisans held a peoples’ parliament in Hariram in Khiriya Bag, in which over a thousand kisans participated.
Organisations participating in the protest included the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, Kisan Sangrami Parishad, Kisan Sangram Samiti, Jai Kisan Andolan and Bhumia Bachao.
The kisans denounced the government for working in the interests of the big corporate houses. They opposed the acquisition of agricultural land for commercial purposes and the domination of the monopoly capitalist companies over all aspects of agriculture, warning that this will spell ruin for the kisans. They opposed the privatisation of railways, airports, factories, hospitals, and all other major industries and services, in all of which the interests of the big corporate houses are being served, at the expense of the people.
Kisans expressed their support for workers who were faced with retrenchment, closure of factories, increasing unemployment, and price rise. They condemned the killing of kisans in Lakhimpur Kheri and pledged to continue the fight till the culprits are punished. A memorandum with a charter of demands was submitted to the government, expressing the determination of the kisans to “not part with even an inch of their land.”
Call to mark second anniversary of the kisan andolan with protests
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has given a call to kisans in every state to march to the Raj Bhavan in their state, on November 26, to mark the second anniversary of the kisan andolan against the three (now repealed) anti-kisan laws. The program of the country-wide Raj Bhavan marches and the memorandum to be submitted to the governors of the states will be finalised at a meeting of the SKM, scheduled for November 14 in New Delhi.
The SKM has condemned the changes being made by the Central government in the rules of the Forest Conservation Act. They have also decided to extend solidarity with tribal organisations who are fighting for their rights, on the occasion of martyr Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary on November 15.