SALUTE THE DEBT LIBERATION OR KARZA MUKTI RALLY OF THE BHARATIYA KISAN UNION EKTA (UGRAHAN) ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY ON MARCH 8TH IN BARNALA IN PUNJAB WHICH SHIMMERED THE LIGHT OF LIBERATION OF THE BROAD PEASANTRY AND THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN FROM THE CLUTCHES OF SLAVERY FROM FASCIST FORCES..IT APPEARED AS THOUGH A HUGE STORM HAD BROKEN OUT IN THE VENUE AT THE GRAIN MARKET IN BARNALA.
One of the greatest events in the history of revolutionary movement of Punjab took place at Grain market in Barnala district commemorating International Women's day on 8th March which I was privileged to witness..25000 peasants shimmered the torch of liberation today in Barnala fruit market to extinguish the forces of darkness in Bku ugrahan karza mukti rally like a huge army.
Venue resembled a stormy ocean or a huge flame encompassing the whole venue.Tribute to painstaking work,revolutionary democratic functioning and massline practice of Bku ugrahan who are arguably the strongest landed peasant organisation in the revolutionary camp in the entire nation.An event I will never forget which could rank amongst the best ever in history of Punjab writing a new chapter to the glorious history.Most significant event in light of the spate of thousands of farmers suicides in recent months and govt.policies representing the very anti-thesis of any progressive development plan..An approach that resisted economism with great methodology to build class organisation and an example to the communist revolutionary camp as a whole.Their experience was an abject lesson to everyone about how building a movement was not only about undertaking political propaganda but building genuine mass political struggles against enemies like money
lenders,politicians,corporates,landlord elements etc Arguably no peasant organisation of the landed section in india amongst revolutionary forces can stage such a big mobilisation or practice massline. to this extent. .It was virtual proof that the struggle of the peasantry of the BKU(Ugrahan)pursued a genuine revolutionary path and were not practicing economist trend.In the view of journalist Neel kamal no peasant organization has built such a sustained peasant movement in Punjab today challenging the autocratic policies or is such a scourge in the eyes of the of the administration as the BKU)Ugrahan)No organization as consistently at grassroots level educated and mobilized peasantry in Punjab against the anti-people state policies as the Ugrahan group.True agricultural labour had a different periphery of demands and could not participate on the same plane as here with the landed peasantry but nevertheless the landed peasantry particularly the poor section is an ally of them.Half of the 25000 participants comprised of women which also speaks volumes of the work of the peasant organization.With intense concentration the participants heard the speeches and vociferously shouted slogan son the conclusion on each of them like lightning and thunder burning in their hearts.I was most impressed with how the speeches dealt with all the peasant and women problems at their very root and dialectically related the problems faced by women with that of the broader peasant movement.
Other organizations of the landed peasantry like BKU -Dakaunda and Kirti Kisan Union attended the All India level peasant rally which even if mobilizing broad peasantry was tailing behind the ruling classes.
The rally was chaired by Shingara Singh Mann ,secretary of the Bathinda district of the BKU(Ugrahan).The speakers included president Joginder Singh Ugrahan,Secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokri ,Head of women's wing Harinder Kaur Bindu and Navsharan Kaur daughter of the legendary revolutionary playwright Gursharan Singh.At the conclusion a 15 min cultural programme was staged organized by Amolak Singh of Punjab Loksabhyakara manch with the theme of debt problems faced by farmers.
Nevertheless there should be no complacency and the event should be a stepping stone to the agitation to be staged in protest to fight the govt in Chandigarh on April 3rd.
I dont deny there are still significant weaknesses in the movement like attitude of landed peasantry to agricultural dalit labour and insufficient political consciousness.to implement land seizures.However I will never forget the painstaking work of the Ugrahan group giving moral support to dalit agricultural labour by assisting their programmes,organizing many a struggle against land grabbing or corporates, rapes,tyranny of gonda elements and politicians cheating of moneylenders compensation for suicide victims etc.as well as their outstanding work in times of parliamentary election sin exposing the autocratic nature of the so called democracy.
Today still absentee landlords exist in Punjab who own over 100 acres of land .The state failed to implement the 1972 land ceilings act which prohibited any farmer owning 17 acres of land.The speakers vociferously condemned this and demanded implementaion of the law..They also spoke about how farmers owning 100 acres got electricity when poor farmers were denied it.The black laws existing were also condemned.They also demanded that all farmers who had incomes of 25 lakhs and above be levied with income tax whom today the state govt.was exempting. Parvesh Sharma
Tribune News Service
Barnala, March 8
The widows of indebted farmers who have committed suicide criticised the working of the Punjab government during the state-level “Lalkar” rally of the BKU Ugrahan at the local grain market. The rally was organised to remind the Congress of its poll promises and to announce its future course of action against the government if it continues to betray farmers of the state.
The organisers announced a “Karza Mukti” rally in Chandigarh on April 3.
“Both my husband and son committed suicide due to debt of Rs 12 lakh. My husband had taken a debt of only Rs 1.5 lakh, but private money lender is increasing it every year in papers despite payments by my son. The Congress came as a hope, but it is fading fast,” said Gurmeet Kaur, resident of Chhajli village, at the rally.
Another widow Sukhwant Kaur from Dharmgarh village alleged that her family had a debt of Rs 18 lakh, but after the death of her husband, private money lenders were unwilling even to share the details of their debt and threatened to take possession of her one acre land and house as they had the alleged backing of some policemen.
“Big industrialists are easily leaving the country after frauds of thousands of crores of rupees, but our governments do not have money to waive the debt of farmers despite repeated promises by political parties before coming to power. We will intensify our agitation in future to get our right of complete debt waiver,” said Joginder Singh Ugraha, president of BKU Ugrahan.
The main demands include recovery of all debt from big landlords and complete debt waiver to small and marginal farmers, Rs 10-lakh financial help to families of deceased farmers and one government job to their family members, division of surplus land among landless labourers, ban on land auctions of indebted farmers and withdrawal of all moves to start electricity bills of tubewells.
Below are 2 reports of Times Journalist Neel Kamal.
Farmers in thousands holds Lalkar rally for debt waiver on completion of one year of Captain govt.They thronged from districts of Sangrur,Bathinda,Barnala ,Mansa,Faridkot,Patiala ,Ferozepur,Patiala ,Muktsar and Moga.The majority of participants were from Bathinda,Sangrur and Mansa districts.
Barnala: Aiming to remind Captain Amarinder Singh government its pre poll promise of complete farm debt waiver, more than twenty thousand farmers and activists of farm organisation BKU Ekta Ugrahan on Thursday assembled at the grain market of Barnala and organised Lalkar rally on the completion of one year of the Congress government in Punjab. The farmers urged the state government to implement its promise or get ready to face the big protests. In the next step of the protests the farmers announced to hold a massive rally by 7 farm organisations on April 3 at Chandigarh. The farm activists also accused the Narendra Modi led NDA government of misleading the farmers with claims of doubling their farm income and providing 50 percent profit over input costs.
The farm leaders equated the Congress government with the previous SAD-BJP government in meting out injustice to farmers. They urged that earlier the Badal government pushed the small and marginal farmers on the brink of committing suicides and toeing the same line now Amarinder government is no better than the predecessor as it has dashed off all hopes of farmers of getting debt waiver by announcing only the loans of cooperative banks.
The farmers even invoked the Nirav Modi bank fraud and asked small farmers to be vigilant as their small monies put in the banks might not be safe as the banks may deduct funds from their accounts for frauds committed by certain corporates.
Farm organisation president Joginder Singh Ugrahan and general secretary Sukhdev Singh K0okri said that the Amarinder government has miserably failed in keeping its word of waiving debt but we will not let this government to befool the farmers with lofty promises and will make life miserable for this government”. Taking on Modi government, they said that the union government is waiving of loans of corporates to the tune of lakhs of crores but have not kept even a penny for debt waiver. Kokri said that Punjab farmers have nearly 1 lakh crore debt whereas farmers across the nation have Rs. 12 lakh crore debt on them and nearly 4 lakh farmers have committed suicides in India in last 10 years whereas more than 20,000 farmers have ended lives in Punjab. The government though has put Rs. 17 lakh crore of corporates into NPAs in last decade but not have waived loans of farmers.
Fam organisation vice president Jhanda Singh Jethuke said that it is very possible that instead of getting debt waiver the farmers may have to bear the burden of frauds with banks committed by corporates as banks may deduct money from accounts of small account holders to compensate their losses.
Not ready to get confined them inside the four walls of their homes, the women in large numbers came out to show their might on the International Women Day on Thursday at Barnala. Most of the women who came out on the streets belonged to small and marginal farmer families with many of them to be illiterate. The women rubbed shoulders with farmers in demanding loan waiver and play their part in the struggles to get the rights of women.
Noted playwright late Gursharan Singh’ daughter Navsharan Kaur and farm organisation BKU Ekta Ugrahan women wing head Harinder Kaur Bindu leading the women activists urged them to rise and raise voice for their rights and the rights of the farming community. The women could play a vital role in making the governments to concede the demands of the community, they urged.
Navsharan Kaur taking up the light of the womenfolk said that earlier too when in October 2015 the women had rubbed shoulders with farmers even at the railway tracks to get compensation for damaged cotton crop in Malwa region then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was astonished to see large number of women in protest mode now you have proved again and will force Captain Amarinder Singh to read the writing on the wall that women will not confine them to the homes. Navsharan, who is doctor by profession, said that though governments waive huge amounts of money to corporates but snatch lands and tractors if small farmers default on loan repayment. She further said that the lopsided policies of various governments are badly driven against dalit women as their age as per certain studies is less by 14 years to those from general categories and many of the dalit women die at 40 years of age due to malnutrition. They are victimised on many counts.
Going further into statistics she said that every hour 39 crimes are committed against women in India and 13 out of these are of domestic violence as well and women need to rise.
“The women have faced a lot and now it is time to stop all this and look for new dawn where women should not be taken lightly. Though the women have shown their worth in the past but despite that the women failed to get its pie. We need to follow the great women who played their part in bringing revolutionary changes in the society like Durga Bhabhi played her part with Bhagat Singh and now we need to change the mind set of the society which is tilted against women.