Farmers’ Struggle Intensifies: Scores Major Victory in Tohana
THE six and a half month long nationwide farmers’ struggle for the repeal of the three anti-people farm laws and for a law to guarantee a fair MSP and procurement continued to intensify last week. The number of peasant martyrs at the Delhi borders crossed the 500 mark.
ACTIONS ON JUNE 5-6
Within ten days of the massive nationwide actions of May 26 (outlined in these columns earlier), to mark six months of the farmers struggle and the all India working class strike, and the completion of seven years of the disastrous Modi government, another set of nationwide actions took place on June 5-6, as per the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).
June 5, 2020 was the day that the BJP central government first promulgated the three hated farm ordinances, which were converted into laws after ramming them through parliament in September, by murdering parliamentary democracy. The other significance of that day was that, it was on June 5, 1974 at a massive rally in Patna that the great democratic freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan gave his famous call for a ‘total revolution’. The nationwide mass movement that began then ended three years later, in March 1977, with the people of India ousting the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government’s Emergency regime in the general elections. June 5 also happened to be World Environment Day.
June 6, 2017 was the day when the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh led by Shivraj Singh Chauhan killed six farmers in police firing at Mandsaur. They were leading a concerted struggle for remunerative prices and loan waiver. It was to condemn the martyrdom of these farmers and to take forward the issues that they had raised that over 200 farmers’ organisations from across the country, including the AIKS, came together and formed the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). The AIKSCC went on to lead two massive actions of the peasantry in Delhi in November 2017 and November 2018. The AIKSCC was the nucleus around which several other large farmers’ organisations came together in October 2020, and formed the SKM, and the unprecedented farmers struggle began a month later on November 26, 2020.
On June 5, lakhs of farmers at the Delhi borders and throughout the country made bonfires of the three Farm Acts at thousands of places in almost all states. This action showed once again that the farmers’ struggle is by no means restricted to the Delhi borders. Like the JP movement which led to the downfall of the Congress regime, the farmers resolved to work for the downfall of the BJP regime. To mark World Environment Day, trees were planted at thousands of places. On June 6, farmers across the country paid homage to the Mandsaur martyrs and also to the martyrs at the Delhi borders, and took a pledge to strengthen the struggle for their rights.
SIEGE AT TOHANA
After the big victory registered by the huge meeting of over 10,000 farmers at Hisar on May 24 over the BJP-JJP state government and its police (reported earlier in these columns), the farmers of Haryana scored another major victory at Tohana on June 7, after 3,000-5,000 farmers laid a massive siege to the police station for three days and nights.
The Haryana state government has been playing a nefarious game to put farmers and police against each other in order to disrupt the movement. Towards this end, the police are being misused to strike terror amongst the local youth by arresting them on trumped-up criminal charges. Farmers began their protest against the anti-farmer abuses made on June 1 by JJP MLA Devender Singh Babli. The police arrested three youth activists Vikas Sisar, Ravi Azad and Makkhan Singh on totally false charges.
Thousands of farmers stormed and laid constant siege to the Tohana police station, with the demand that the three youth be released and the false criminal cases against them withdrawn. If this was not done, the farmers insisted that all of them should also be arrested. Langars were started at the protest site and police personnel were also invited to have food.
The protest was led on behalf of the SKM by Rakesh Tikait, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Yogendra Yadav, Yudhvir Singh, P Krishna Prasad, Inderjit Singh and others. Among others of the AIKS and AIAWU who stayed with the protesters and addressed them were Phool Singh Sheokand, Sumit, Ram Chander Sahnal, Vishnu Dutt, Master Balbir Singh, Shakuntala Jakhar, Miya Singh and others, while Jagtar Singh was in the panel to conduct the proceedings. The AIKS also mobilised well along with others, with red flags seen everywhere.
Eventually, Babli was forced to tender an apology for his abusive statements. And at the end of the three day siege, the police were forced to release all the three youth and to withdraw the false cases against them. The Tohana victory came on the heels of the Hisar victory, in which false cases were withdrawn against over 350 farmers. Both these victories enthused the farmers not only in Haryana, but all over the country.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar just came out with an extremely arrogant statement that the government was prepared to discuss all issues with farmers, except that of the three farm laws. This was immediately condemned by the SKM, AIKSCC and AIKS. A few days ago, Tomar himself got a taste of the farmers’ wrath when they stopped his cavalcade and showed black flags at Sheopur in his own parliamentary constituency of Morena in Madhya Pradesh. The demonstration took place despite the fact that the leader of the local farmers struggle Radheshyam Meena and many others were arrested from their homes that morning.
As seen by the constantly increasing numbers of farmers reaching the Delhi borders, the growing nationwide response to SKM calls, and the intensifying social boycott of BJP leaders in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, the historic farmers struggle is bent on combating all the whims, fancies, egotism and the pro-corporate adamancy of the Modi regime.
We shall end this piece with the comments of a former cabinet minister, a two time MLA from Amritsar North, and a prominent BJP leader from Punjab, Anil Joshi. He publicly said that senior leaders in his Party need to shun the Hath Yog and show sincerity on the farmers’ cause if they have to remain alive in Punjab politics. He told a national daily, “When we have lost municipal elections in Punjab badly due to farmer’s agitation, do you think they will allow us to contest assembly polls? If farmers have dug their heels at the Delhi border for six months, do you think they would budge now? If you cannot put across the issues of those who have shown faith in you, do you still think that you will survive in politics?”