May 22, 2016

AIKS-SFI Lead Militant Action on Aurangabad Divisional Commissionerate

Ajit Nawale

ON May 3, 2016, around 1000 peasants and students from all the eight districts of the Marathwada region, led by the AIKS and the SFI, broke two police barricades and marched right inside the compound of the Aurangabad Divisional Commissioner’s office. This militant and unprecedented action was conducted on the burning demands related to the grim drought situation in the region. The agitators occupied the office for over an hour until the officers agreed to hold a meeting with the AIKS-SFI delegation the next day, in which all officials dealing with drought-related issues were summoned from all the eight districts.

For two days and one night on May 3 and 4, all the agitators camped right outside the Commissionerate. Under this pressure, in the two hour long meeting that was held on May 4, most of the major demands that lay within the administration’s purview were conceded.

This struggle was an immediate sequel to the AIKS-led one lakh strong statewide historic peasant siege in Nashik that was held on March 29-30, 2016 and which has been reported in the April 4-10, 2016 issue of People’s Democracy and Loklahar. The Aurangabad struggle was also widely covered by both print and electronic media due to the grave nature of the drought and also due to the militant nature of the two-day action. 

A delegation comprising Dr Ashok Dhawale, Kisan Gujar, Dr Ajit Nawale, Arjun Adey, Uddhav Poul, Vilas Babar, Govind Ardad, Mohan Lamb, Shivaji Deshmukh and Ankush Budhwant of the AIKS, Maroti Khandare of the AIAWU and Manjushree Kabade and Sunil Rathod of the SFI led the struggle and also conducted the discussions with the officials.

Earlier on April 25, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, after her tour of the drought-affected areas of Beed district, also met the Aurangabad Divisional Commissioner along with AIKS leaders Dr Ashok Dhawale, Dr Ajit Nawale and others, submitted a memorandum and also addressed a press conference in Aurangabad.

One of the highlights was the presence of SFI all India general secretary Vikram Singh who, while addressing the participants, spoke of the nationwide call given by the SFI to collect funds for the drought-affected people of the Marathwada region. Along with the above leaders, this struggle was led by Dada Raipure, Dr Vithal More, Ramkrishna Shere, Deepak Lipne, Shankar Sidam, Suresh Kachgunde, Dr Bhausaheb Zirpe, Tanaji Waghmare and Sudhakar Shinde of the AIKS and Mohan Jadhav, Datta Chavan, Balaji Kaletwad, Rohidas Jadhav, Dr Ravindra Madne, Meera Kamble, Ramesh Joshi and Nitin Wavale of the SFI.

The CITU in Aurangabad expressed solidarity with the AIKS-SFI struggle by conducting a 500-strong motor-cycle rally which joined the public meeting. Uddhav Bhavalkar, Laxman Sakrudkar and Anna Sawant of CITU, Shrikant Phopse of MSMRA, Sarita Sharma of AIAWU, Bhagwan Bhojane, Yogesh Khosre and Tanuja Joshi of DYFI, Dr Sunanda Tidke of AIDWA and renowned irrigation expert Pradeep Purandare expressed support to the struggle.

The several specific demands that were conceded related to the provision of drinking water, work and wages under MNREGA, fodder for cattle, agricultural inputs for peasants, fee waiver for students, land issues related to the temple lands and forest lands and so on.

So far as the other major demands of the AIKS relating to peasant loan waiver, compensation for crop loss of peasants, remunerative prices as per the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission that were raised and discussed with the chief minister at the time of the AIKS-led Nashik satyagraha and the student fee-waiver for the coming academic year, it was agreed that these demands would be forwarded once again from the Divisional Commissioner’s office to the state government.

The Aurangabad struggle gave a call for conducting fasts on May 16 and 17 on these drought-related issues in all the villages in Marathwada where we have influence, to culminate in local road blockades in the region on May 18.

The 22 state conference of the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha will open with a massive peasant rally in Thane city on May 30, which will once again highlight the issues raised by the Nashik and Aurangabad struggles. The state conference will be held in the Comrade Godavari Shamrao Parulekar Bhavan at Talasari in Palghar district on May 31 and June 1. AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah will attend and guide the conference.