14
Jul

Farmers Protest: Sedition

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 231

Toll 538+

Sedition

Last two days, I shared a few pictures just to check if Facebook algorithms prevent my posts from reaching you. Looking at the response, that is confirmed. Also, I know visuals are easy to respond to, text needs some reading. Anyway, I decided to not use the hashtag. Perhaps, the message will show in your feed.

Yesterday, for the first time, the Haryana police charged farmers with sedition. Yes, you read that right. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan – Kisan now charged with incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority. This is classic!

On July 11, about a hundred farmers were protesting against Haryana Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa in Sirsa. Police has now filed sedition changes against two leaders, Harcharan Singh and Prahlad Singh, and 90-100 other unidentified farmers under stringent Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 124-A (sedition) and 307 (attempt to murder).

The sedition law, an artefact of the British, brought in 1870, is itself inexplicable in a democracy – Britain abolished it in 2011. Sedition was made a cognizable offence for the first time in history of independent India during the tenure of PM Indira Gandhi in 1973, when arrest without a warrant was made permissible. That is the government this government criticises to find its place in people’s hearts. Yet, this government is merely repeating what Indira Gandhi did. Actually, much worse.

The question here is: who is the nation? Is it the government or is it the people?

Pictures coming in right now from rains on borders. Click to see here. Do you think these people want to topple the government?

12
Jul

Farmers Protest: Martyrs

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 229

Toll 538

#FarmersProtest

Martyrs

Three days back it was Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s birthday. Badal announced that if his party wins Panjab elections, his government will compensate all the martyrs on the farmers protest with one government job per family, free education for children and health education for life.

What irony! This is the same party that neglected agrarian woes for the decade they were in power in Panjab. This was the period when the agrarian crises in the nation and in the food bowl of India – Panjab – deepened. According to university studies 16006 farmers and labourers committed suicide. The reporting was fudged.

I witnessed the White Fly protests in Panjab in late 2015, reported on it, wrote about it in my book. As the protests were on, incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib came to light. The people’s attention was distracted. This has been the government tactic for decades now. It has been over five years, the sacrilege issue is still not sorted despite two commissions, various Special Task Forces. The threads of most investigations point to Dera Sacha Sauda, enabled by Badals.

Of course, families of those who have departed must be helped. Their loans written off, their children educated, their families must be taken care. The Sikh Gurdwara management body SGPC – again controlled by Badals – announced a relief of Rs 1 lakh per martyr family in December 2020. When that did not go anywhere, now to gain a foothold in the farmers protest, when SAD declares compensation. Sorry to sound harsh, it sounds like ‘ambulance chasing’.

While announcing the package, Badal said, ’550 farmers have lost their lives.’ You see the toll on all my posts. The number today is 538. Where did Badal get 550 from? Or is he rounding off, wishing more people die at the protests? How cruel and uncouth is that?
Actually, you will see that number elsewhere too. On some other social media handles on twitter and Instagram. There is a bit of a story behind it.

The number on my post comes from the blog that Anu Sandhu , Amar Mander, Jai Singh Sandhu, Harender Happy have diligently maintained since the protests started. The numbers in this blog come from newspaper reports, social media, information from farmer unions, individual input. They are reconciled every few days and published. It is meticulous and strenuous work. That it is about deaths makes it even more difficult.

I believe, hardly has any such large protest in the world ever generated such exact statistics. They are, in many ways, sacrosanct. They tell us exactly what is going on and will also be a huge resource for historians.

In mid-June, the team collating the numbers suddenly noticed a drop in reporting on the deaths in local Panjabi media. No Hindi media has reported them consistently. We spoke to some of the major newspapers and they promised to resume reporting. That have done it. The team is very thankful to them.

However, in this period ABP news suddenly projected a number which can’t be verified. On June 27, ABP Panjabi reported 540 farmers had died. Some other media and Instagram handles also did that. I can’t say if they they were averaging and extrapolating or they have evidence. No evidence for that number is available.

That is why, I believe the number is 338, elaborately referenced in this blog. Let us please not run other numbers. To me it is disrespectful to those who have departed and to the close to eight month long farmers protest.

Click here for the blog.

11
Jul

Kisan Sangharsh: Karnataka

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 228

Toll 337

#KisanSangharsh

Karnataka

We know the recent union cabinet reshuffle was really an exercise to pass on blame about extreme failure in governance on 12 ministers and accommodate new faces in preparation for state elections – especially Uttar Pradesh. Given how the PMO has appropriated all ministries for the last 7 years, it does not really matter who heads which ministry any longer.

The elevation of Shobha Karandlaje as Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare is an interesting development for Karnataka. Shobha is perceived to be an efficient minister and very close to Karnataka chief minister B. S. Yediyurappa.
Now, in Karnataka, Yediyurappa is a bone stuck in BJP’s throat. Without him, BJP can’t win elections in the state.

In 2012, he had resigned from BJP and started his own party Karnataka Janata Paksha. In the 2013 state elections, KJP won 8 of the 203 seats and secured about 10% of the total votes polled. It restricted the BJP to just 40 seats, compared to the 110 it had in the outgoing assembly.

Yediyurappa came back to the BJP before 2014 elections. He himself won his seat with a high mandate and then in 2018 state elections with him leading the party, it won 104 seats. Of course, it could not form the government but then it indulged in skulduggery and formed the government in July 2019.

Yediyurappa is 78 years old. According to BJP’s own mandate he should no longer be CM and be in the Marg Darshak Mandal. Yet, there is infighting in the state BJP over Yediyurappa’s push to promote his son and the Centre has not succeeded in getting Yediyurappa to resign.

That is where Shobha Karandlaje elevation comes in to soften Yediyurappa. Yediyurappa’s life long mission has been as messiah of farmers. By offering agriculture and farmer welfare, the Centre wants to convey to him that his life mission will be furthered. But with farmers protest, the Supreme Court suspending Farm Laws, the ministry is curtailed.

Given Karandlaje is from south India, the Hindi language issues, I do not see much point in her being able to negotiate with north Indian farmers. The government thus has a) under-utilised an otherwise efficient minister when there is a real dearth of efficient ministers at the Centre, b) tried to score brownie points with a mass leader important for their foray in south India.

In Panjab, for the last few weeks, some BJP leaders have been raising their voice in favour of farmers and against Centre draconian Farm Laws. Today, the BJP has suspended Anil Joshi, a senior leader from the state. Show us how the Centre has actually lost the plot.

9
Jul

Kisan Sangharsh: Wheat Procurement

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 226

Toll 334+

#KisanSangharsh

Wheat Procurement

By now, I guess, we all know how the government runs advertisements about its achievements – even where there are none. The same is going on with last season’s wheat procurement. Lies, lies, and hiding facts.

To set the record straight:

Last year, wheat procurement was around 31-36% of total wheat produced. This year it was procurement of 39.65%. Yes, it is 3% higher.

Any guesses for reason in increase? Not that suddenly government feels for the farmers. It is because of the pressure of the protests – to show the country that the government is engaged with the farmers.

Here are some cold state-wise figures:

- Uttar Pradesh only 16.85% of

- Bihar only 8.18%

- Gujarat only 4.8%

This is why the farmers demand legally guaranteed MSP for all farmers for all commodities.

8
Jul

Farmers Protest: Fuel Price

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 225 (sorry for error in day count. At some point I missed a day. Will check and correct but for now this is correct.)

Toll 534+

#KisanSangharsh

Fuel Price Protest

Last night, In Delhi petrol price crossed Rs 100. In Bangalore the price is Rs 103.93. The entire country is reeling from fuel and cooking gas price rise.

Yet, I wonder how many are protesting. Or has it come down to the valiant poor to raise a voice which then the middle-class will appropriate and from which it would benefit?

Picture from Tikri Border

5
Jul

Kisan Sangharsh: Parliament

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 221

Toll 530+

#KisanSangharsh

Parliament

The Kundli Police station, Singhu protest site is 40 kilometers from the Parliament. Tikri is 28 kilometers. Ghazipur is 15 kilometers. Yet, for the last seven months, despite union ministers earlier meeting farmers 11 times between November 26th 2020 and January 11, 2021, the government has perhaps forgotten that a farmers protests continues on the outskirts of Delhi.

That is why, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has now decided to protest right outside the Parliament. Don’t worry, lakhs of farmers are not yet moving in to Delhi. Token five members per union, a total of 200-250 protesters are going to reach the outskirts of the Parliament from July 22nd until the monsoon session ends.

Remember how the Centre had insulted Tamil Nadu farmers who had also protested in small numbers but heart wrenchingly outside the Parliament from March until October in 2017? Yet, their demands we betrayed by a false promise by the Centre and the state government. You see what happened in the election? AIADMK and BJP lost badly.

One can hope this time the police will not try to stop these representative protest outside the Parliament. On the 17th of July, SKM will send a warning letter to all opposition parties in the country, to ensure that the session is used to support the farmers’ struggle, and that farmers’ demands are met by the government.

The idea is the government is challenged both inside the Parliament by the Opposition and outside by a representative of the lacs of farmers protesting on Delhi borders for the last seven plus months.

4
Jul

Kisan Sangharsh: Stock Limit on Pulses

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 220

Toll 530+

#KisanSangharsh*

Stock Limit on Pulses

Given the rising fuel prices – on which Centre can reduce taxes but does not – the prices of all commodities are rising. Middle class household budgets have shaken up. The poor are unable to afford food.
Two days back, the government imposed stock limits on all pulses except moong: millers – last three months of production or 25 per cent of annual installed capacity; wholesalers – 200 tonnes; retailers – 5 tonnes.

This is a welcome step. Applaud.

But, the new Essential Commodities Act, does not allow for it. The new ECA, in section 2, b, ii says: stock limit can be imposed on price rise of fifty per cent in case of non-perishable agricultural foodstuff.

Have the prices on all pulses breached that limit yet? No. Then how has the government imposed the stock limit in contravention to its own new laws?

The government could do that because in December 2020 the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the three central farm laws including the new ECA so the previous ECA 1955 still applies. ECA 1955 allows the government to regulate the production, supply, and distribution of a whole host of commodities that it declares ‘essential’ to make them available to consumers at fair prices.

A black market run in pulses is curtailed for now because the old law still holds good. Of course, the prices of perishable agriculture products are still swinging widely between either high because of rarity or distress sale because farmers are unable to transport given high diesel rates and the government has no mechanism to check it.

Now do you see why the farmers are protesting against new laws? Because if implemented, they will wreck havoc not only upon farmers, but the whole of India. Especially, us – the urban consumers.

*Changed tag because Facebook has curtailed views with this tag.

3
Jul

Farmers Protest: Protest Against Fuel Hike

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 219

Toll 530+

#FarmersProtest

Protest Against Fuel Hike

There have been some enquiries on the Samyukt Kisan Morcha nation-wide call against fuel hike. The reason why SKM has called all sections of Indian society to join the call is that fuel hike concerns us all.

Well, Essential Commodities Act also concerns us but fuel hike is like the Chinese water torture – drop by drop cold water on scalp, in this case relentless paisa by paise increase in prices. Such that while crude prices have nose-dived globally, the Central government taxes have more than doubled the prices between 2014 and 2021 and now in many part of the country we pay over Rs 100 for a litre of petrol.

The chief enquiry that I am getting is: how do citizens join the strike? Normally, SKM passes a statement and then in a few days outlines the plan. So, let us wait to hear from them, I will share. Here is the part of SKM press release which contains the announcement:

‘In a meeting organised by SKM today at Singhu Border and attended by 67 farmers’ organisations, the farmers’ movement has decided to hold nation-wide protests on July 8th (Thursday) against fuel price hikes. The protests will be on the side of roads, between 10am and 12noon on July 8th, without obstructing the traffic, with scooters, motorcycles, tractors, trucks, other vehicles and empty cooking gas cylinders. SKM appeals to people from all walks of life to join the July 8th protests, since the exorbitant prices of fuel in the country are affected all common citizens.’

Form this I derive these protests need to be localised, by neighbourhood groups or even individuals. It is a limited protest for two hours 10 am to 12 am, July 8, next Thursday. All we need is chart paper, perhaps informal banners and stand on our nearby main roads and petrol bunks.

Whatever be the economic rationale of the price hike, its effect on all goods is clear. Our household budgets are in disarray. I also see these hikes as a test of whether we citizens care? Do we even dare to protest the government? Do we have a voice still? Or has relentless bullying worked, have we cowered?

Consider those, reply to the government. Join in.

1
Jul

Farmers Protest: Ruckus

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 217

Toll 528+

#FarmersProtest

Ruckus

The Ghazipur protest site is on top of the flyover and below it. The protesters have left one side of the road – Delhi exit – open. Normally traffic moves at high speed on that side of the road, some vehicles slow down to take a closer look at protests.

For the past few days now, on the pretext of welcoming a BJP leader Amit Valmiki, several BJP-RSS workers and supporters have been climbing the road next to the protest stage. They have also raised slogans against the farmers’ movement, calling farmers gaddar, anti national, Khalistani and terrorists. Yesterday, they also beat drums to drown out the stage proceedings and indulged in stone-pelting onto the morcha stage.

There was absolutely no justification to welcome the BJP leader at this location. That too for three days. The BJP did this only to instigate a clash with the protesting farmers. Farmers objected and confronted them with black flags. Farmers insisted on the BJP workers leaving the place. Police remained mute spectators throughout. In the ensuing clash, at least 5 farmers were injured.

The BJP is clearly trying to bring in discord and disturbance by dividing people on caste and religion lines. The allegations of weapons being found, and vehicles being damaged are obviously, political diversionary tactics. A complaint has been lodged by the protesting farmers at the local police station.

Khori village is located on the Faridabad-Delhi border. After an 11-years legal battle, on June 7 the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of thousands of homes and eviction of dwellers with no compensation whatsoever. The SKM decided to conduct a Mahapanchayat at the village yesterday. Before the Mahapanchayat, the police indulged in heavy lathi charged on the resident labour.

Several activists were arrested, beaten and released last night. They are: Rajveer Kaur, Ravinder Singh, Sanjay Maurya, Satya Veer Singh, Sahil Saifi, Lukman and Narendra Singh. SKM is in solidarity with the residents of Khori village and will prevent their eviction.

Yesterday, under the leadership of farmer leader Tajinder Singh Virk, a large number of farmers reached the Bahedi toll of Bareilly district and the toll has been made free.

1
Jul

Farmers Protest: Hul Adivasi Rebellion

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Posted on June 29, 2021

Day 215

Toll 526+

#FarmersProtest

Not my content but posting it here for posterity. Tomorrow, the protests are going to mark the Hul Adivasi Rebellion, 30 June 1855.

Read to know who are our indigenous people, what the rebellion was about. I learnt so much from it, perhaps you would too. It made me understand how I take my received knowledge of what makes us India and my privileges for granted.

Salute!

Tribals have been in the forefront of India’s freedom struggle. Even much before the people of mainland India, tribals started their armed resistance against British colonial rulers in different parts of India. One such important rebellion was the historic Hull rebellion led by tribal heros Sidhhu and Kanu of Shanthal Pragana. Sidhhu, Kanu along with Chand and Bhairab were the four sons of Narayan Majhi of Santal Pragana’s Bhagnadihi village. Kanu was born in the year, 1820. The Rajamahal mountain ranges of Shantal pargana were called as Damine Koh, meaning flying mountains.

Childhood of Sidhhu and Kano passed in acute poverty. From the very beginning they were witness to how the local landlords and money landers with the support of Britishers exploited and looted the Santhals of his area.

Local landlords were keeping tribal people as Dadans to exploit their free labour. They were snatching away their land in different pretexts. Even their women were subject to sexual exploitation.

At that time railway line was being laid in that area. Snatching away the fertile land of tribals for this purpose had created strong resentment among them.

After realizing the need of a protest against this injustice, Kanu first interacted with the local tribal people. People responded to his idea positively and shared their bitter experience and resentment against the feudal landlords along with the Britishers. Kanu and his brothers have organized series of meetings to end this exploitation of Santhals. Big meetings were conducted where thousands of people including non-tribal poor who were also exploited by the landlord-money landers and local British officials participated. They collectively decided to fight against this exploitation and injustice and also to bring it to the notice of British Governor staying at Kolkata. They had an illusion that Governor will solve their problem as the local British officers instead of listening their grievances were supporting the landlord and money lenders.

As per this decision a huge meeting was held near his village Bhagnadihi on 30th June 1855 to start their formal agitation. Thousands of people from four hundred villages of that area participated. Not only Santhals but other exploited people of different non tribal communities participated. Kanu was unanimously selected as the leader and Sidhhu as the deputy leader to lead the agitation. This was the historic day in the history of Santhal pargana area. Later Britishers called this agitation as Santhal Rebellion. Hul in Santhali means Revolutionary appeal and many Santhali Hul Songs became popular then. In that meeting Kanu had given the call of “Chalo Kolkata” to meet the Governor of British and the march started there. This created panic among the local landlords – money landers and British officials. An unsuccessful attempt was made to stop this march under the leadership of Mahesh Daroga who was killed on 7th July at the hands of agitators.

To stop that march of tribals, a huge contingent of British police led by Major Byaroj attacked the people but he was fought back and forced to run away. Very soon people realized that they will not be allowed to march to Kolkatta and so the armed rebellion is the only option. Instead of assembling in big numbers they decided to form small team of armed rebels and started attacking the local landlords and money landers. On 12th July rebels captured the Rajabati or palace of Pakud. That palace had been used as the main camp of Britishers to suppress tribal protest and suppression. Before the rebels reached there all except the women and children fled. Rebels did no harm to them. Only food grains were looted.

Seeing the rising tide of the rebellion, the Britishers sent their army which resorted to large scale repression and harassment of people. This forced Kanu-Sidhhu and their associates to realize that the methods of appeal and application has gone and armed rebellion was the only option to save the Santhals. They gave a call to end the British rule. This political slogan was given consciously.

Soon the rebellion spread through the border districts of Bengal and Jharkhand. Bankura, Birbhum, Murshidabad, Ranigunj area of Burdawan and Asansol became the centres of rebellion. An armed womens wing was also developed under the leadership of Kanu’s wife Phulmani to resist the British forces but all of them were killed by the enemy. It is officially accepted that more than 15,000 rebel farmers, mainly tribals were killed by the British army.

British officials had conspired to capture both Sidhhu and Kanu by engaging spies. For the exchange of money some betrayers had provided information first about Sidhhu and he was captured in 1855. A drama of trying him for his crime was enacted in a British court and hanging order was given. He was soon hanged from a tree by the Britishers in 1855. But his death did not stop the rebellion. Rather it sharpened day by day. More and more landlords and money landers of the area and British were eliminated by surprise attacks of rebels. Britishers knew Kanu was the main leader and rebellion cannot be crushed without capturing or killing him. Finally, he was captured on 30th Nov 1855 and after a trial drama from 14-16 Jan 1856, he was sentenced to death by the British court. On 23 Jan 1856 he was brought to his village and hanged there. This was done only to terrorise the local people.

Sidhhu and Kanu were fearless fighters who had sacrificed their life for the cause of the people. Their rebellion against British colonialists and their native associates like landlords and money landers was a glorious chapter in the history of India. Their rebellion forced the Britishers to enact laws like Chotanagpur Tenancy Act. This struggle continues to inspire the common people particularly the tribals of our country to resist exploitation and assert the right over land and forest resources.

In this context every year 30th June is observed as the Hul Day by the people of Santhal Pragana and bordering districts of Bengal.

Bhalchandra Shadangi
Secretary, AIKMS