Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

8
Sep

Farmers Protest: Karnal

   Posted by: aman

Day 286

Toll 594 (adjusted back to martyr’s count published last night)

Karnal

In the last 75 years of being a free democratic country, we have nearly normalised extra-judicial orders, unwritten draconian orders by senior officials and politicians. Entire geographies have been hit by officers and politicians bending the law. My guesstimate is there might not be a district in the country where such disregard for law has not occurred.

Yet, there comes a time when the smallest lapse becomes the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. That is what happened with Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha who was recorded giving orders to ‘break the heads’ of farmers. We have all seen the video. It is wrong. Retired IAS officers and judges have condemned it, human rights watchers have condemned it. Yet, the state continues to defend Sinha.

Last night, this led to the huge gherao of the Karnal DC Office or some call it mini-Secretariat. The farmers are demanding Sinha’s prosecution and compensation to farmer Kajal who sadly died owing to the police lathi charge on August 28th. Last night SKM leaders have appealed for even larger participation. The numbers are set to increase from estimated over 2 lakhs yesterday to perhaps half a million today.

At stake is a simple matter: who should the police and civil administration obey? Should they obey the rule book, the Constitution on which they have sworn to protect society or the politicians who wield power and pass unofficial orders? Who are they serving – society or representatives of people who have turned rogue?

That is why this protest in Karnal is not about Sinha or the District Commissioner or CM Khattar alone. It is a struggle to establish what is primary in a democracy: the law or rogue appropriation of the executive (one of the pillars of democracy). We know the legislative is compromised, we know the judiciary is often compromised. To set all right, we need to start somewhere and the farmers have evidence to charge the SDM. The crowds are doing exactly that – mounting pressure on administration to follow the rule book.

This protest is to uphold democratic values. If we are interested in democracy, we will support it fully.

———–

Last night, Jap in the absence of food, water, even Internet to message for resources.

Langar when food arrived.

Dear Friends,

I like it when independent media picks my pieces on social media and publishes them. Thank you Maktoob Media for publishing my take on the Muzaffar Mahapanchayat held on September 5, 2021.

Please read here …

6
Sep

Farmers Protest: Mahapanchayat Outcomes

   Posted by: aman

Day 284

Toll 596

Mahapanchayat Outcomes

This is purely my take on the outcomes of the Muzaffarnanagar Mahapanchayat yesterday.

1. Deepening of public consciousness and demonstration of people’s strength against draconian regime. Whatever the media tells you, hides from you, there was a Jan Sailab – people’s flood at the rally yesterday. Samyukt Kisan Morcha in its press note says 10 lakhs or 1 million people attended the Mahapanchayat. Independent sources place the number higher at 15 to 20 lakhs. Know that there was a jam 20 kilometers from the venue. Many attendees would have not been able to reach the venue. Overall, it was a huge demonstration of people’s discontent with the incumbent government.

2. Call for unity against all attempts to divide farmers: wo todenge, hum jodenge – they will try to break us, we will stand united. Given the backdrop of Muzaffarnagar 2013 (see earlier posts) there was a clear indication that farmers will not be polarized. The farmers have realised Sangh’s game plan and have resolutely decided to not let the poison affect their lives. Jats and Muslims, Gujjars and Sikhs attended the rally. The double utterance from Baba Tikait’s time came into play: Allah Hu Akbar – Har Har Mahadev. Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal and Wahe Guru Ji Da Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji Di Fateh resounded on stage.

3. Mission Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand launched: daam nahin to vote nahin – no fair price, no vote. The purpose of the Mahapanchayat was to signal to the regime that with state elections less than 5 months away, BJP which has not upheld its promises needs to note that people will not repose their faith in the party again. The specific promise to which BJP was subjected was sugar cane price promised to be made Rs 450 per quintal and release of Rs 12,000 crore to farmers as past payments. The larger issue raised were the demands for the last 9 months: repeal Farm Laws, implement Minimum Support Price.

4. SKM to take steps to activate resistance to ‘India’s Sale’ in all states – Haryana body with 19 unions formed; similar efforts in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and other states on. The Mahapanchayat raised issues of sectors beyond agriculture. They mentioned Labour Codes, Fisheries, sale of Public Sector Units, privatisation of roads, railways, and such. The SKM will start building solidarities to save these national assets.

5. SKM declares September 27th as Bharat Bandh; solicits cooperation from all trade unions, from across industries, traders and the Opposition. SKM reiterated its demand to penalise Karnal SDM over instructions to ‘break people’s heads’ else stood by its decision to gherao Haryana mini–Secretariat September 7th.

I think the Mahapanchayat was a huge success. The farmers have sent out a message, now it is time for middle class across the country to wake up, join the efforts. 17 Mahapanchayats are planned in Uttar Pradesh in coming weeks. The battle for the country has moved from Panjab and Haryana to the Hindi heartland.

I know we all grew up listening to stories of the freedom struggle, finding our heroes, and now are becoming increasingly disappointed and despondent on how the values are eroded, the country is being broken and sold out. Seeing the proceedings, I felt, why do we not switch our minds? Instead of lamenting, why do we not see this as an opportunity to fight the oppressors, throw the neo-colonialists out? That is what the farmers have been doing for the last not only 9 months but many years.

Time for us ‘spectators’ to jump into the battle. May we find the will and strength to do that for ourselves, for our next generations.

6
Sep

Farmers Protest: UP Mission

   Posted by: aman

Day 283

Toll 596

UP Mission

Forty-six years back, on the same Muzaffarnagar Government Inter College grounds as today, Jay Prakash Narayan had given a call against Emergency. Eight years back, on September 7, 2013, in nearby village Nagla Mandaur the Jat Mahapanchayat had triggered communal violence which had breached the Hindu-Muslim community and torn them apart. BJP/RSS had used that breach to start their 2014 campaign, win general elections and the rest has been a seven year long national nightmare.
In many ways, all the Bhartiya Kisan Union branches in north Indian states owe their genesis to Baba Mahender Singh Tikait. Yet, when the farmers protests started – given 2013 Muzaffarnagar – Rakesh Tikait seemed an odd one to support the movement.

January 26th happened, as Singhu was in shock, Tikait held up Ghazipur. As authorities cut electricity and water, barricades road, was ready to unleash an attack on Terai Sikhs who were staying back, and came to arrest Tikait, remove him from the spot, he called for ‘water from his village’. Middle of foggy winter night, thousands from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh set out for Delhi with water.
The Mahapanchayat end of January in Muzaffarnagar was marked by a rare apology. The Hindus and Muslims together took the Lota Nun oath to boycott BJP. Rakesh Tikait was soon all over the media, all over the country, joined the ‘No Vote to BJP’ campaign in Bengal. Many opined it was a ploy: media was deliberately playing up Tikait and the cost of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

Tikait, like Rajewal, has sworn to not return to his village until the Farm Laws are repealed and MSP is legalised. Even today, he reached the stage straight from Gazipur protest site and will return to Delhi’s border without going home.
While the mood at the Mahapachayat is buoyant, I feel this Mahapanchayat, at the inauguration of people’s voice against the regime termed as ‘UP Mission’ is tinged with a sense of pain – atonement, penance. This is an attempt to undo the damage of 2013. I do not know if we can ever recover from the loss of last seven years but this pain drives this attempt and that is what makes it so much more worthy.

Today, looking at Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat, it is clear that the people are bigger than any leader. The resolve in the eyes of the last elder in the protest is far brighter than any conspiracies real or imagined. The strength in their sinews is far stronger than any draconian government. The moral power of non-violence is far greater than the batons and guns of any police force. Speeches are going on in Kannada and Tamizh and Malayalam as well at the Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat.

Here is a short video from this morning on the issues that drive this Mahapanchayat and UP Mission by my friend Nakul Singh Sawhney from ChalChitra Abhiyaan who has kept a close vigil on the region for the past eight years. 9.21, sorry no subtitles. That needs time and the urgency is great.

Here is a how languages other than Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamizh and Malayalam were also spoken at the rayy.

Here is the conclusion of the rally.

4
Sep

Farmers Protest: Muzaffarnagar Baki Hai …

   Posted by: aman

Day 282

Toll 595

Muzaffarnagar Baki Hai …

The Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat tomorrow is already being talked about as the biggest rally of farmers anywhere in the world. The site Muzaffarnagar is important because of its association with 2013 violence. That is when the Sangh had played its dirty game from the platform BKU had offered it. The consequences are BJP’s win in 2014 and consolidation in 2019.

Late January, at the Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat, when farmers took the Lota Nun vow (post as first comment), the Tikait brothers had apologised for how they had betrayed the BKU ethos and the Muslim community had agreed to bury the past and come together to fight the BJP. The bridging between communities led to farmers protest recovering and consolidating from the blow dealt it by the government on January 26th.

This rally tomorrow is important because it will signal the farmers’ dissatisfaction and discontent to the regime. There is no doubt about participation. Also, this is just the beginning. Many more rallies are planned in the coming weeks. The issue is will this gathering gain a defined political outlook? While BJP can anyway write-off West Uttar Pradesh, it can still come to power in the state from central and East UP. At 23 crore, UP is a huge state.

The need is that Opposition – Rashtriya Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, whatever is left of Congress – solidly come together and defeat BJP comprehensively in western, central and eastern UP. Like the protest itself where the farmers’ tenacity has kept the movement going for nine months and leaders have shaped it; political leaders now need to realise the groundswell and use it to defeat BJP.
Let us see what happens.

Map of the site, in Hindi. Blue is rally location, Green is parking, Yellow/Orange langar venues.

3
Sep

Farmers Protest: Paddy Procurement

   Posted by: aman

Day 281

Toll 595

Paddy Procurement

It really seems the government is unaware of anything like the farmers protest. It seems to me like Indira Gandhi’s wilful blindness when she called for elections after Emergency in 1977. Her advisors had told he she would win, but she was trounced.

The government continues with flawed policies. The new rules issued by the Centre clearly show they want to buy as little as possible paddy on Minimum Support Price. See my post dated March 17, some additional points:

- Broken grain: 25% is accepted. Now reduced to 20% when on ground broken grain is about 35%.

- Discolouration: 5% was allowed, now reduced to 3%.

- Moisture: 15% was allowed, now reduced to 14%.

- Damaged grain: 3% was allowed, now reduced to 2%.

- Red grains: 3% was the limit, now no longer be purchased.

Along with the farmers, the new rules are also being opposed by the Rice Millers’ Association. Even the Panjab government has opposed the new rules.

Meanwhile, the Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat on September 5, the day after tomorrow. The one that has sent chills down the government’s non-existent spine. See the stage, this is huge. 31 seconds.

31
Aug

Farmers Protest: State Units

   Posted by: aman

Day 278

Toll 593

State Units

As the protests are growing, also in view of the end of harvest season and bigger crowds at the sites of protest, there is a need to deepen representation and facilitate communication between different unions.

With this in mind – while the Samyukt Kisan Morcha is a coming together of 32 farmers unions from Panjab, and unions from other states – unions in Uttrakhand and Haryana are coming together to form their own state units. Going forward, these state units will coordinate with the SKM and decide and implement programs for the entire protest.

Against the government’s lip service to an oxymoron called ‘cooperative federalism’ when all it does is increase centralisation, by creating local and state units the farmers are presenting another model of real grassroots federalism to the nation.

 

30
Aug

Farmers Protest: Gharonda

   Posted by: aman

Day 277

Toll 593

Gharonda

AJ Singh

Resolution passed at Gharonda, Karnal Haryana after police brutality where one Farmer lost his life.

1. Farmer union demand action against the police and Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha for instructing the police to use force to prevent farmers from crossing the barricades to reach the venue of a state level meeting of the ruling BJP at a private hotel in Karnal on Saturday.

2. To take back all cases filed by Karnal police against hundreds of farmers, including 27 by name, for attacking the police and blocking the highway.

3. To file FIR under IPC section 302 against SDM Sinha, and inspector Harjinder Singh, who is also JJP leader Balbir Singh’s brother.

Adding from Shamsher Singh’s comment below:

1. To gherao the Karnal district secretariat on September 7 demanding compensation of INR 25 lakh and job for one family member of the martyred farmer, INR 2 lakh for injured farmers.

2. Farmers’ organisations from Haryana will strongly urge the SKM to take ‘bold’ decisions as per the emerging situation in Haryana where the state government has cracked down on farmers at multiple occasions. The meeting also decided to form an exclusive group of organisations from Haryana for better coordination at the state level.

Ayush Sinha is the SDM (Karnal). The lathi-charge took place in Gharonda in the presence of the Duty Magistrate (SDM-Gharonda) Pooja Bharti. My take is, let police establish Sinha was not present and Bharti was present, then she can also be implicated. We all know how these cases go. The idea is to rattle the official machinery that carries out the diktats of politicians. There is another call going around, in theory, that let Khaps instruct police personnel from their villages to not carry out violence against farmers. If that happens and is followed, the official machinery will be in great crises.

29
Aug

Farmers Protest: Jallianwala

   Posted by: aman

Day 276

Toll 585+

Jallianwala

Whether is is re-writing history, re-creating martyr lists, re-configuring pictures of leaders, the right-wing – which played no role in the freedom struggle and wrote apology letters to the British – is past master at creating ironies.

The Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar massacre in 1919 triggered the freedom movement in earnest. Yesterday the right wing put the irony into practice. A few hours before the prime minister was to inaugurate modern exhibits – museum and exhibits with dazzling lights – at Jallianwala Bagh, the Haryana police on the orders of Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, mercilessly lathi-charged farmers at Bastara toll plaza breaking limbs and heads since the orders were ‘sar phod do’.

The issue was a general diktat among farmers unions to prevent the BJP-JJP Haryana government ministers from participating in public meetings and programs. Haryana CM Khattar was to come to his home constituency Karnal. Farmers were protesting at the toll plaza 15 kilometers from the CM’s venue with black flags. In the past months, skirmishes have happened, FIRs have been filed, arrests have been made, activists have been freed, government has passed draconian laws registering complaints against thousands, but this time it was sheer violence by the state.

In the re-enactment of Jallianwala Bagh at Karnal, around 10 farmers were badly injured. The police also took 11 farmers in custody. Around 3 pm, the SKM issued a call to all farmers of the state to block all roads. It was immediately implemented and the blockade stayed until this morning 7.30 am when the police released the farmers it had taken into custody.

The demand is for the SDM who gave the orders to be suspended. However, looking at how CM Khattar and and the SDM have spoken in press, alleging stone throwing by farmers, it is clear that the conspiracy to carry out a brutal attack was masterminded by powers higher than an SDM.

The real intention of the undue violence against farmers is to cause a retaliation, turn the nine-month long peaceful farmers protest violent, and use even more brutal force to evict the protesters. That is the distraction the government is trying to create from the upcoming September 5 rally in Muzaffarnagar. That rally is critical for Opposition galvanising against Yogi in UP in the upcoming elections.

26
Aug

Farmers Protest: Police

   Posted by: aman

Day 273

Toll 582

Police

We all now know about ‘the 6 trillion dollars sale to achieve the 5 million tonne economy’. – Thanks to Shakti D for the line.

Question is: who will guard all these privatised assets?

Would our, taxpayers, money go into paying salaries of police and para-military forces standing guard on private factories and assets or would new private owners raise their own security forces and has been in vogue for the last few decades? You know, like the private security guards for apartment complexes and corporate offices.

That brings us to the apprehension I have had for years now: obviously, like with everything else, government will stop funding state police forces. Police forces will see huge reduction in jobs. New recruitments will reduce. India will have bigger and bigger private militias.

That would take us to South America or closer still to Afghanistan. I hope the police forces and para-military think about it when they next raise their batons and open their prisons and file FIRs against those protesting rise of crony capitalism. It is in each individual police personnel’s interest to reflect upon what the government they defend will do with them.