Vol. XLI No. 31 July 30, 2017

Kisan Curfew in Rajasthan

Chaganlal Choudhury

THE peasantry in Rajasthan faces very difficult conditions not only due to the climate which swings from -3 degree centigrade to +50 degree centigrade but also because two thirds of the state is not irrigated. On top of this, the policies of the centre and the state have made the condition of the peasantry much worse. The government is not buying crops at the minimum support price.

During these years, it is the falling prices of their produce rather than the famine, which has led to a grave crisis for the peasantry in the state. The peasantry in Rajasthan has always been fighting against adverse natural conditions and the feudal grip over rural life.

AIKS president Amra Ram, speaking at the victory celebrations held when the peasantry had won its demand of reducing the enhanced electricity rates in a four month long struggle, exhorted the peasantry to continue their struggle for the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendation on remunerative prices, and for writing off the loans and for the protection of the crops from wild animals.

After a series of all India actions by the peasantry following the killing of six peasants in Madhya Pradesh, the AIKS in Rajasthan decided to observe Kisan Curfew on July 17, 2017.

The state committee of the AIKS after a couple of meetings made detailed plans for the curfew. During the period of curfew the peasants would not bring fruits, vegetables, milk and other produce to the market in the cities, bandh in the government office in the rural area from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and blockade of the national highway passing through rural areas (only ambulances, fire brigade and weddings processions were exempted). The state centre printed 20 thousand leaflets, and district committees printed 50 thousand leaflets listing the demands and distributed them all over the state. Meetings were held in three thousand villages.

Since early morning, groups of peasants came out to implement the curfew. The peasants on their own had decided not to come to the market, nobody had come out to sell milk or any other produce as a result no milk reached the cities even for the morning tea. There was wide spread discussion on the success of the curfew even in the cities.

All the markets wore a deserted look. The entire life in the state came to a standstill. In Sikkar district it was decided to observe a blockade at 60 places but it was spontaneously observed  in many more places. Meetings were organised at all these places. Women came out singing songs of peasant struggles.  Even the cattle traders observed a strike and a public meeting attended by about five thousand people was held.

In Churu district, blockade was observed at 56 places, in Ganganagar it was observed in 67 places. In Hanumangarh district national highways were picketed at 42 places and in Bikaner district at 17 places. In Naugaur traffic was stopped at 9 places. In the Jhunjhunu district the villages of Nawalgarh and Ghunia tehsil observed the bandh. National highways were blocked including at 19 places in the Jaipur district. Chakka jam was observed at 3 places in Udaipur, 5 in Dungarpur, 2 in Jodhpur, 2 in Kota and 1 in Baran. Markets remained closed in Kota district.

The protest demonstrations in support of the curfew were held in Bharatpur, Boondi, Alwar, Sirohi,  Bhilwara, Sawai Madhopur, Barmer, Tonk and Chittor. Khet Mazdoor Union, CITU, SFI, DYFI, AILU and Janwadi Mahila Samiti extended their support to the curfew. A significant feature of the curfew was large scale participation of the youth.