Vol. XLI No. 23 June 04, 2017

HARYANA: AIKS Holds its Twelfth State Conference

Inderjit Singh

THE twelfth Haryana state conference of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was held successfully in Bhiwani on May 20-21. The conference began with hoisting of the AIKS flag by its state president Master Sher Singh and the inaugural address was delivered in an open session by AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah. He drew the attention of the audience towards the very serious situation prevailing in the country with rising attacks on the livelihood of the peasantry, the disruption of their unity, and the Modi dispensation turning more and more authoritarian since it assumed power at the centre three years ago by cashing in on the mass discontent against the UPA rule.

Mollah reminded how Narendra Modi repeatedly made promises while addressing 300 election meetings across the country that he would implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, make the farmers debt free, ensure remunerative crop prices, create jobs, enough water and power supply, etc. However, the NDA government led by the BJP refused to honour the promises and thus the people were feeling cheated and deceived.

The report presented on behalf of the state committee briefly threw light on the prevailing international and national situation while the situation in Haryana was dealt in detail, along with the state of organisation explained in a self-critical manner as well as the review of agitations and campaigns undertaken during past four years. The report has expressed serious concern over unabated deepening of agriculture crisis as witnessed in recurring distress sale of all major crops, vegetables and timber. This has rendered agriculture as a totally unviable occupation tightening the noose of indebtedness and driving the distressed farmers to commit suicide. Accentuation of this trend was forcing the peasantry in general to get rid of farming and even to the point of selling off their lands under compulsion. It is in this disgusting scenario that the Khattar government in Haryana has launched the so-called Gujarat model for land acquisition. A land portal has been created in which the land of farmers offering their land at the lowest rates will be acquired first. Such colonial plunder will eventually make the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 totally redundant.

Similarly, the much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) also stands thoroughly exposed as entirely anti-farmer and pro-corporate loot. Premium money is being forcibly deducted from farmers’ bank accounts and transferred to the accounts of the three private companies viz. Reliance, Bajaj and ICICI Insurance who have been allotted seven districts each in Haryana. But practically no compensation is conceded by these companies for the crop damage during last two seasons.  

The section of the report on social sector shows how the economic distress was finding expression in social crisis resulting in mass discontent and the pent-up anger was being used to create caste polarisation as was witnessed last year during the Jat reservation agitation when the BJP government allowed the violence to escalate. It was a well-planned strategy intending to sharpen the caste division and harvest political dividend. Such divisive politics was again played up by using cow as a ploy against Muslims of the Mewat region.

Animal husbandry is integral part of agriculture in general and the Mewat farmers have bigger stay in cattle rearing mainly because of continued lack of irrigation and discrimination by various regimes in the matter of over-all development of this region. Yet the cattle rearing farmers are being branded as cattle smugglers and attacked violently. A four-member delegation from Mewat had a distinct presence in the AIKS state conference. These included Hafiz Suleman also. An elderly father of Azmat Khan seriously injured in the murderous attack by so-called “gau rakshaks” in Alwar taking the life of another farmer Pehlu Khan. Hafiz Suleman, “You all know that my son has been confined to bed for the past month-and-a-half. You may well understand the grief of this aggrieved father. However, let me tell you that half of my pain is gone as I stand before all of you in this Kisan Sabha conference.”

The report has further emphasised the need to take up task of studying and analysing the changes taking place as a result of neo-liberal policies more concretely with the help of surveys so that concrete tasks and slogans could be formulated to mobilise the peasantry. Land under cultivation was fast decreasing since at least eight districts of Haryana fall under the National Capital Region (NCR) and a huge network of highways passes through this state.

The farming community was not a monolithic entity and instead there were landless and poor farmers, small and marginal, large and very large also. It is a fact that there are distinct categories of cultivators in Haryana in respect of size of land holdings owned by these categories.

According to the Haryana government data, 67.5 per cent cultivators in the category of less than 2 hactares have merely 22.58 per cent of the total cultivable land. The category of 2 to 5 hectare constituting 21.93 per cent farmers possess 31.11 per cent land. On the other hand, 5 to 10 hectare or more than 10 hectare category comprise 11.77 per cent farmers have control over a whopping 46.31 per cent of land. It is obvious that the main brunt of neo-liberal policies was being borne by the overwhelming rural poor who also include the small or landless farmers doing farming on contract or share basis. By virtue of their vulnerability, they are the most hard-pressed as they are not registered as farmers hence absolutely no protection or formal security. So, issues and demands pertaining to this category be raised on priority basis by the organisation.

Besides these, it is women farmers on whose shoulders more and more quantum of farming burden was being shifted even though they exclusively perform household work and larger share of animal husbandry too. Women are meted out all sort of discrimination. Still they are yet to be recognised as bona fide farmers. Ironically even our male activists suffer from serious lack of awareness in this regard in the matter of organinsing women farmers in the AIKS, the report stated.

On the organisational front, the main weaknesses include non-functioning of the state centre, a factor adversaly affecting the the entire organisation at all levels. It has been pointed out that we are not able to consolidate the important gains achieved through struggles into organisational strengthening mainly due to ad hoc functioning.

A total of 256 delegates, including 13 women, unanimously elected a 39-member state committee which further elected its 15-member secretariat with Master Sher Singh as president, Phool Singh Sheokand as general secretary, and Pradeep Singh as finance secretary. Inderjit Singh, Harpal Singh, S N Solanki, Molar Singh Arya and O P Saini were elected as vice-presidents, and Daya Nand Poonia, Sunita Kungar, Preet Singh, Kartar Singh, Sube Singh Boora and Balbir Singh as joint secretaries.

A resolution moved by Inderjit Singh to make the 34TH all-India conference of the AIKS in Hisar from October 3 to October 6 a grand success was adopted with thunderous applause. It keeps the target of mobilising active support from at least 2,000 villages out of a total of about 7,000 villages in Haryana.

Dr. Baljit Singh Bhyan, an agriculture scientist, and Dr. Ramesh Sidhar, a retired assistant director of the Haryana animal husbandry department, also addressed the conference. Fraternal representatives from JMS, DYFI, SFI and CITU also addressed it.

AIKS finance secretary Krishna Prasad delivered the concluding speech, placing his keen observations of the two-day deliberations. He said that there were a lot of opportunities for the expansion of the AIKS in Haryana and to this end he made some concrete suggestions which need to be adopted in practice. He told that the violence perpetrated in Alwar on Mewat cattle farmers was not just a communal incident rather it must be seen as an assault on the livelihood of farming community as a whole and needs to be met with united strength of peasantry.