Farmers Triumph over Haryana BJP-JJP Govt at Karnal
IT was a famous victory. The four day long gherao by thousands of farmers led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) of the Karnal Mini Secretariat in Haryana, which began on September 7, 2021, ended on September 11 after the BJP-JJP state government was forced to accept the farmers’ demands.
The Khattar government agreed to suspend SDM Ayush Sinha, IAS, the official who ordered the ‘breaking of farmers’ heads’ on August 28. A judicial inquiry will be held under a retired High Court judge who will look into the role of Ayush Sinha and the police violence which resulted in the death of one farmer, martyr Sushil Kajal, and grievous injury to several others. The probe will be completed within a month. Government also agreed to a sizable compensation to the family of Sushil Kajal, and support in the form of two jobs on sanctioned vacant posts to his family members. Compensation will also be given to the farmers injured in the violence. All police cases against farmers would be withdrawn. With this agreement between the farmers and the administration, the Karnal gherao ended, in the same victorious fashion as previous dharnas in Hisar, Tohana and Sirsa in Haryana.
It will be recalled that on August 28, the very next day after the successful conclusion of the SKM national convention at the Singhu border on August 26-27, brutal repression was unleashed by the BJP-JJP government, its administration and its police in Haryana, on peaceful farmer protestors in Karnal. They had gathered at the Bastara toll plaza to peacefully give slogans and show black flags to BJP chief minister Manoharlal Khattar, who had come to attend a programme in Karnal, which is his own district and constituency.
The worst aspect was the disgraceful orders of the SDM Ayush Sinha to the police force deployed in Karnal to ‘break the heads’ of the protestors. The video of him giving these orders went viral. This stirred peoples’ memories of the hated British General Dyer and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It is evident that the SDM could not have given such draconian orders without political instigation from the top. The next day, police cases were lodged against 100 farmers.
On the same night of August 28, Sushil Kajal, a 48 year old farmer of village Raipur Jatan, district Karnal, who received severe blows in the police lathi charge, died. He was cremated at 11 am on the morning of August 29, without any post mortem being conducted. He was a regular participant in this farmers' struggle right from the beginning. Sushil Kajal became a martyr of the bloodthirsty BJP-JJP state government of Haryana, which has waged a war on its own people by lodging false police cases on nearly 40,000 farmers, including two cases of sedition, in the last nine months of this historic farmers' struggle.
The SKM gave an immediate call to block roads everywhere to condemn this repression and the death of Sushil Kajal. Farmers from all over Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other states responded to this call. In several places across the country, effigies of the Haryana chief minister were burnt.
A massive SKM kisan panchayat organised in the Gharonda grain market in Karnal issued an ultimatum to the Haryana government and gave the deadline of September 6, by which the farmers demanded that the BJP-JJP government take strong action against SDM Ayush Sinha. Far from dismissing or suspending Ayush Sinha, he was transferred and promoted, with the blessings of the BJP chief minister and the JJP deputy chief minister!
In retaliation, on September 7, a massive two lakh strong SKM rally was held at Karnal. In a shameful and cowardly act, the district administration imposed Section 144 and shut down the internet in Karnal and surrounding districts, and threatened to charge the protesters with Section 188 IPC. A troop of 40 companies of security forces, including 10 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) were stationed in Karnal.
Treating all these repressive measures with the contempt that they deserved, the huge mass of farmers marched to the mini secretariat. The police did not dare to stop them. Thousands of farmers, including women, camped outside for four days and nights. The gherao was addressed by SKM leaders and by several leaders of the Haryana farm unions. Three rounds of talks with the administration failed. The farmers were unbending. At last, on September 11, it was the government that was forced to bend. It was a major victory for the united farmers’ struggle.
SKM AND AIKS LEADERS
COME OUT IN FULL SUPPORT
All SKM leaders including Balbir Singh Rajewal, Rakesh Tikait, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Darshan Pal, Ashok Dhawale, Yogendra Yadav, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Atul Kumar Anjaan and others provided solid backing to the Karnal gherao with their active participation. On behalf of the AIKS, P Krishnaprasad, Inderjit Singh, Phool Singh Sheokand, Sumit, Master Sher Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Mahipal and others were an integral part of this struggle. AIAWU general secretary B Venkat and joint secretary V Sivadasan, MP, also came to Karnal in support. Inderjit Singh and Phool Singh Sheokand represented the AIKS in the 14 member team that negotiated with the administration.
An AIKS delegation visited the family members of martyr Sushil Kajol in his village on August 31. It provided immediate relief of Rs 1 lakh to the family of the victim from its Kisan Struggle Fund. The findings of the team were reported in an AIKS press conference that was addressed by general secretary Hannan Mollah and P Krishnaprasad. Immediately after the August 28 attacks also, the AIKS had released two strong press releases denouncing the repression.
The delegation met Sushil’s mother Murti Devi and wife Sudesh Devi. The mother said Sushil had injury at the back of his head and shoulder and was in severe pain. He was not admitted to the hospital by the police, hence he was forced to come home. He died in the night and there was swelling on his face and abdomen with skin turned bluish in colour. The wife said Sushil was part of the farmers’ struggle during the last nine months and after his death no police or revenue officers visited the family till that day. Farmer leaders at Bastara toll plaza also reported that Sushil was severely beaten by a group of policemen. Police did not allow them to take him to hospital and those who were severely injured were also forced to leave hospital after first aid.
The AIKS delegation came to the conclusion that Sushil Kajal was murdered due to the severe lathi-charge by the Haryana police, resulting in internal injuries and bleeding. Instead of taking him to hospital and ensuring treatment to save his life, the police did the criminal act of not allowing him to get admitted to hospital. The body was cremated in the village without post mortem on August 29. The superintendent of police Ganga Ram Puniya claimed that the death was due to heart attack. How can the police state the cause of death without a post mortem? This is a deliberate act to hide the truth and protect the culprits.
Hence the AIKS demanded a judicial inquiry into the police violence, to unearth the cause of death and to ensure strict punishment to the culprits. SDM Ayush Sinha had ordered the police officers to attack and break the heads of the agitating farmers. This is an illegal and criminal act and severe action must be taken against the SDM. The AIKS endorsed the other demands made by the SKM including immediate compensation and government job to the kin of the victim.
CPI(M) GENERAL SECRETARY
MEETS FAMILY OF MARTYR
On September 12, a CPI(M) delegation led by general secretary Sitaram Yechury visited Raipur Jatan village of Karnal district of Haryana and met the family of Sushil Kajal. He was accompanied by Polit Bureau member Nilotpal Basu and central committee member Jogendra Sharma. Others present were AIKS state vice President Inderjit Singh, AIDWA vice president Jagmati Sangwan, Karnal party district secretary Ashok Arora, Panipat district secretary Sunil Dutt, CITU leader Jagpal and others.
Sitaram saluted the bravery of the mother who said that she won't cry over the loss of her son after taking a cue from Shaheed Bhagat Singh's mother. Sharing their grief he also appreciated the courage exhibited by Sudesh, wife of martyr Sushil, who joined the Kisan morcha on September 7. He assured the aggrieved family that his party will try its best on all forums to see that the agreement arrived at between the government and SKM on September 11 is executed in both letter and spirit.
Later, addressing a media conference, Sitaram said that it was as a result of the massive farmers’ mobilisation that the Haryana government had to accept the demands. He said the Modi-led BJP regime is on the defensive in the face of rising discontent among the people, as was seen in the assembly elections of some states held a few months ago. The removal of four chief ministers of BJP ruled states in a row, including Gujarat, is testimony enough to the dwindling popularity of this party. He reiterated the support extended to the Bharat Bandh on September 27 by the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, there is a groundswell of support for the Bharat Bandh from all over the country. We shall take stock of it in this column next week.