January 26, 2020

Successful grameen Bharat bandh

Hannan Mollah

A CALL for ‘rural hartal’ - grameen Bharat bandh on January 8, 2020 was given in the meeting of Central Kisan Council(CKC) of the All India Kisan Sabha(AIKS), on November 22, 2019. The call of grameen Bharat bandh was also endorsed by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC), in a convention which was held on November 29-30, 2019 at Delhi.  Support to the January 8 industrial strike, a call given by the 10 central trade unions was also endorsed by the convention.

The AIKS and all other constituents of AIKSCC took up the massive preparatory programme for making the struggle a grand success.  The handbill and posters were used for campaign and explaining the 19-point demands with focus on remunerative price of all agricultural products as per Swaminathan committee recommendation, i.e., C2+50 per cent – cost of production plus 50 per cent profit and assured government procurement of crops and one time loan waiver of all loans from banks, cooperatives and private moneylenders, benefitting all sections of the farmers. 

About 10 crore people of the urban and rural India across the country took part in the strike.  In West Bengal, in 22 districts, the rural areas took the shape of a total bandh. In spite of Mamata Banerjee government’s serious threat and police repression, thousands of peasants and agricultural workers came on the street to make the grameen bandh a grand success. On January 6 and 7, processions and street corner meetings were organised in a large number of villages.  More than 2,500 such meetings were held by the Krishak Sabha and Khet Mazdoor Union and massive response of the people was noted as more than one lakh people attended those meetings.  This was reflected on January 8.  Thousands of peasants and agricultural workers came on the streets and took part in rasta roko, rail roko, market bandh and mandi bandh activities.  In some places, administration and TMC goons tried to intimidate the peasant volunteers and tried to force open the shops, but failed.  Kisan Sabha, along with other Left kisan organisations, jointly made the rural strike a grand success.

Tripura is facing barbaric attack by BJP goons against democratic forces. In spite of that, the bandh in Tripura received unprecedented support from the people.  In rural areas, the peasantry under the leadership of Kisan Sabha, Ganamukti Parishad and Khet Mazdoor Union bravely faced the police and BJP attacks, physical assaults and police atrocities. The peasants participated in thousands to stop transport and trains. Shops and mandis in rural and tribal areas were closed. This strike created enthusiasm among the peasantry in the state. 

In Bihar, AIKS along with AIAWU, and other constituents of AIKSCC, took part in the rural bandh. In 27 districts, there were road block, in which nearly 35,000-40,000 peasants took part and thousands came in the streets in support of the action.  At the district headquarters in 11 districts and in many tehsil offices, rallies were organised after the strike. 

In Jharkhand, Kisan Sabha organised protest rallies in nine districts and campaigned in 35 panchayats.  In 18 blocks, there were road blocks. In Ranchi district, 88 people were arrested.  In 107 villages, gram sabha meetings were organised and 10,000 handbills distributed.  In Garhwa, Palamu and Ramgarh districts, joint programmes were organised.  These activities created confidence among the rural poor.

In Odisha, the strike was considerably successful.  About 35,000 people were on the street after the strike and 15,000 were from rural areas comprising kisans and tribals.  Large participation was in Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Gajepati, Ganjam, Angul, Bhadrak, Balasore. In Sundargarh, Kendrapara, rural Bhubaneswar and Mayurbhaja districts, the kisan-khet mazdoor and tribals joined in the campaign and action programmes.

In Rajasthan also, the influence of rural bandh was good.  Twenty kisan organisations gave a call for the strike. In Jhunjhunu district, in 37 villages’ milk and vegetable was not supplied in 70 villages. In Churu district, 60 panchayats sent memo to the President of India; the vegetable mandi was also closed. Strike was complete in Hanumangarh tehsil.  In Sikar, strike was in six sub divisions and massive rallies were held. In Ganganagar district, nine anaj mandis remained closed. Fifty villages in Raisinghnagar were covered and some villages were closed. In Lunkaransar of Bikaner, dharnas were held. In Jodhpur, Jaipur, Dungarpur, Bharatpur, Barmer and Jalore, memorandum’s were submitted. As the nomination for panchayat elections was fixed on January 8, in Rajasthan, the participation was influenced. 

In Assam, Kisan Sabha organised a massive campaign for rural bandh though there were massive movements going on against Citizenship(Amendment) Act.  The response to the bandh was encouraging and on January 8, a bandh-like situation was created in many places.  There was good response from peasantry for grameen bandh in Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Sonitpur, Biswanath, Cachar, Karimganj etc.  There were meetings, rallies, road blocks, picketing in many places.  The impact of the bandh was good. 

In Himachal Pradesh, Kisan Sabha planned for proper campaign of rural bandh and organized dharnas at block level.  In eight districts, protests were organised. In 15 places, those programmes were held.  Campaign on local issues was also added and dharnas and rallies were organised.  Due to heavy rain and snowfall, mobilisations were affected, still about 3,000 peasants took part in the struggle. 

In Uttar Pradesh, the joint meetings were held and in some 40 districts programmes were organised.  The police stopped holding of rallies in many places. Handbills were distributed, but due to continuous rain, programmes were affected. However, a good message of struggle has gone to the farmers.

In Gujarat, Kisan Sabha took up campaign programmes in support of worker bandh as well as of rural bandh.  Handbills were distributed explaining the demands and importance of struggle for that. Rasta roko was organised at Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha district and police arrested 97 worker-peasant volunteers.  A daylong fast and dharna was held at Upleta of Rajkot district. More than 300 farmers took part in it. Rasta roko was held at Aravalli district and 100 peasants participated. Dharna was organised at Fatepura in Dahod district.  These programmes created good enthusiasm among farmers.

In Haryana, 19 kisan organisations jointly prepared for the grameen bandh and a big kisan panchayat was held at Hansi (Hisar).  On January 8, protest actions were organised in 10 districts and 22 villages. Two jathas for five days covered 35 villages of Rohtak, a total of 1,400 peasants took part in the action. 

In Uttarakhand, in nine districts and 12 tehsils, campaigns, dharnas and rallies were organised.

In Chattisgarh also, 20 kisan organisations planned joint action for rural bandh.  In eight districts, kisans were mobilised in various forms. In Rajnandgaon, kisan and workers held joint rally. In Durg, more than 150 kisans participated in the rally. In Abhanpur of Raipur district, a dharna was organised along with CPI(ML). Protest meeting was held before paddy purchasing centre in Raipur. In Dhamtari, a massive kisan-mazdoor rally was organised and 700 peasants and workers were arrested.  In Korba, Mahasamund, Raigarh, rallies held and memorandum was submitted to the government. In Champa and Soorajpur districts also, dharna was organised.  The joint activities of kisan organisations was held in 2,000 villages.

In Jammu, in spite of serious difficulties, kisan sabha tried to organise protest in some places.  A dharna was organised at the district headquarter of Kathua district.  A rally was held at Reasi district.  In R S Pura tehsil of Jammu district, a good  demonstration was held on January 8.

In Maharashtra, grameen bandh had a very good impact.  AIKS took lead in 21 districts to organise rasta roko action and rallies after that. In other districts, dharnas and rallies were held.  At 37 places about 35,000 peasant volunteers came on the streets and stopped transport movement.  Thousands of them were arrested by police in different places.  Largest mobilisation was in Nashik district, where 23,000 peasants organised rasta roko at seven centres. In Thane, 4,000 peasants blocked Mumbai-Delhi highway at Sahapur.  1,500 people mobilised at Akola of Ahmednagar district.  At Mahur of Nanded, thousands gathered to stop vehicles and then continued dharna for six days for temple land struggle. In Palghar, Nandurbar and Nagpur districts, due to zilla parishad election on the same day, no programme could take place.  The grameen bandh affected the districts of Nashik, Thane, Ahmednagar, Pune, Raigad, Satera, Sangli,  Kolhapur, Solapur, Latur, Osmanabad, Beed, Aurangabad, Jhalna, Parbani, Hingoli, Nanded, Yavatmal, Wardha, Amravati and Buldano.  Other organisations also took part in the struggle in different districts. 

Karnataka state also had good preparation for rural bandh under AIKSCC leadership.  AIKS played an important role in the struggle.  They printed and distributed one lakh handbills and held joint press conferences in different districts, including Bengaluru. District level rallies were held in all the districts. In Kolar district, bandh was organised in all talukas. In Tumkur, more than 400 peasants took part in rallies and actions were organised in many taluks. In Mandya, total bandh was in Malvalli tehsil.  In Chikkaballapur, total bandh was in Bagepalli and Gudibande taluk and partially in other taluks.  In Yadagir district a vehicle jatha and road blocks were organised in four taluks.   In Bengaluru, a central rally was held. In Koppal, 1,200 farmers in five taluks participated in action. In Hasana, Raichur, Mysuru, Gulbarga, Bellary and Bijapur impressive rallies were held in a number of places.

In Kerala, the peasants were organised in thousands to protest against the anti-peasant policies of central government. 

In Tamilnadu also, rallies, meetings, campaigns, dharnas were organised widely in most of the districts and grameen bandh was organised by the peasants and agricultural workers in the state.

In Punjab, rural bandh was successfully organised along with other peasant organisations. In some places joint actions were held with CITU.  In Patiala district, rasta roko was held at Roti Ka Pul and rallies at Nabha, Paten and Samana. In Sangrur district, rallies and protests were held at Sunam, Bhawanigarh, Longowal, Dhuri and Malerkotla. In Ludhiana, protests were held at Raikot, Mullanpur and Samrala; in Hoshiarpur at Garhshankar, Baddiwan, Chabbewal, Dasuya, Mukerian and Hoshiarpur; in Anandpur Saheb, Nangal and Nurpur Bedi; in Tarn Taran at Patti and Tarn Taran; in Nawashahr at Banga, Balachaur and Nawanshahr. 

The call of grameen Bharat bandh by kisan organisations was a successful call, which was observed widely in the country and reflected the anger of the peasantry towards the ruinous anti-farmer policies. This call also brought different set of people and organisations together to fight jointly. The struggle was also able to further solidify the worker-peasant unity.