SKM Calls for Continuous Protests Before Parliament from July 22
THE Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has announced that during the upcoming parliament session starting from July 19, 2021, it will protest outside parliament. Starting from July 22, every day, five protestors from each organisation associated with SKM will protest outside the Indian parliament. Thus there will be hundreds of protestors every day. SKM will also write to opposition parties to ensure that they actively take up the demands of the farmers. "We want the opposition parties to ensure that the farmers' agitation and its demands become the main issue and that the government is brought under pressure to fulfill our demands. We do not want the opposition to create ruckus or just walk out from the proceedings, but engage constructively inside the parliament, while farmers protest outside", said SKM.
Certain important but worrying developments as regards the farm laws have occurred on July 6 in the Maharashtra state assembly. We shall take stock of them next week.
FUEL PRICE HIKE
On July 8, protests will be organised across India, in response to SKM's call, against fuel price hikes. At designated public places, protestors will come with their vehicles to be parked on the roadside, and with empty cooking gas cylinders. Here, they will protest with posters, placards and banners that put out messages like "Halve the prices of diesel, petrol and cooking gas", along with "Repeal three central farm acts" and "Enact a MSP guarantee law for all commodities" etc. This will be done between 10 am and 12 noon. The protests will not block traffic. Diesel and petrol prices are about Rs 100 per litre in India today. Today 65 per cent of the fuel prices being paid by common citizens go to the government as taxes. In fact, aviation fuel is cheaper than the fuel that ordinary consumers like farmers have to use. Citizens cannot continue to bear this burden, and the nationwide protests are being organised in this context.
June 30 was observed as Hool Kranti Diwas in all the morchas. Also known as the Santhal Rebellion, the Hool Kranti was the Santhals' resistance in modern-day Jharkhand against the East India Company, the usury and the zamindari systems. The Hool Kranti in 1855-56 preceded the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. It was a rebellion mounted by the Santhals, led by Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu, which was fought on a uniquely indigenous value system. SKM paid respects to the adivasis of India, who fought many battles to keep the country free from exploitation and injustice, and to protect the livelihood resources of communities. They are an inspiration and part of this movement too. Today's farmers' movement also rests on the honour and dignity of farmers, patience, hope, perseverance and peace, and in the farmers' resistance against injustice and corporate control.
Last week BJP-RSS goons led by one Amit Valmiki tried to attack the farmers gathered at the Ghazipur border. It was in fact with the active connivance of the Uttar Pradesh BJP government and its police that the BJP-RSS goons were able to organise their provocative event close to the protest site in Ghazipur where farmers have been protesting from December 2020. This is an orchestrated conspiracy, using the infamous dirty tricks that BJP-RSS is notorious for. The goons were driven away by the farmers. But while the complaint of the BJP goons was registered by the police, the one by the farmers was not. In response to this, protests were organised in many police stations in Uttar Pradesh, demanding that the SKM complaint be registered.
In response to this attack, the SKM organised a Valmiki kisan panchayat at the Ghazipur border, initiated by the Valmiki Samaj Sangh, with participation of Valmiki Kranti Dal, Bharatiya Valmiki Sangh, Delhi Valmiki Chaupal, Chanakyapuri Valmiki Mandir and others. It was charged that the BJP-RSS forces want to divide farmers on caste lines and break their unity. Against this backdrop, all participants of the panchayat took a firm resolve that they will not allow divisive forces to break the unity of different communities.
Newly elected MLA of Assam and a fighting farmers’ leader, Akhil Gogoi was acquitted of all charges under UAPA and various IPC sections, along with three others, by a Special NIA Court. The special court dismissed all charges by NIA including sedition, and he has now been released from imprisonment. A popular farmer leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), he set up peasant cooperatives that are directly connected to urban consumers, to ensure that farmers get a fair price, and are not drawn into the clutches of big corporations. He was elected an MLA after contesting from jail. These cases clearly show how the authoritarian regime of the BJP is using draconian laws to harass farmer leaders and others by implicating them in false cases. SKM welcomed his long overdue release from jail, and acquittal of all charges.
On the other hand, homage was paid by the SKM to Father Stan Swamy, hailing him as a dedicated fighter for the rights of the tribal people in Jharkhand. The SKM severely condemned his being implicated falsely in the Bhima Koregaon case, being kept in judicial custody, being denied proper medical attention and being denied bail despite his old age and health problems. The injustice meted out to him by government, through its investigation and jail authorities, was condemned. He succumbed to injustice from the judicial system also. The AIKS immediately released a strong statement of condemnation of the BJP central government on July 5 after his institutional murder and demanded that all those responsible be brought to book.
Last week, we had noted the glowing support to the farmers’ struggle by renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky. The SKM thanked Prof Noam Chomsky for his "sagacious and energising words of advice and encouragement to the struggle of farmers of India". In a letter sent to Prof Chomsky, the SKM noted that his "principled solidarity and support has bolstered the resolve of farmers" to continue their determined and peaceful resistance to the onslaught of corporate capture of farming and food security.