November 21, 2021

Preparations for Peasant-Worker Actions

Ashok Dhawale

HECTIC nationwide preparations are on by peasants and workers across India to make the nationwide actions on and around November 26 a resounding success. November 26, 2021 marks the completion of one year of the historic farmers’ struggle, the first anniversary of the nationwide strike by the working class, and also the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India. On that day, massive congregations will be held at all the Delhi borders, and also throughout the country, at the joint call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Central Trade Unions (CTUs). In several states, preparatory meetings are being held to mobilise farmers and workers and to decide on the exact details of protest programmes on that day.

Preparations have begun for two huge kisan mazdoor mahapanchayats that have been planned – the Uttar Pradesh mahapanchayat at Lucknow on November 22 and the Maharashtra mahapanchayat at Mumbai on November 28. Preparations for the Lucknow mahapanchayat are in full swing, and it is expected to witness a massive gathering of farmers, putting out a strong message to the anti-farmer BJP before the state assembly elections. The 10 lakh strong Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat had powerfully inaugurated the SKM’s Mission Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand, and the Lucknow mahapanchayat will robustly take this process forward.

AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, finance secretary P Krishnaprasad, AIKS UP state general secretary Mukut Singh, state president Bharat Singh, state treasurer Baburam Yadav, Rakesh Kumar Mishra and other leaders last week participated in a series of public meetings and press conferences in several districts of central, eastern and western UP like Etawah, Sultanpur, Amethi, Agra and Deoria, to help mobilise peasants for the Lucknow rally on November 22. AIKS state vice president D P Singh, joint secretary Chandrapal Singh and other leaders are taking part in several meetings in districts of Western UP to mobilise in strength for the rally at the Ghazipur border on November 26.       

From the beginning of parliament’s winter session on November 29 up to its completion on December 23, 500 farmers from the Delhi borders will march every day to parliament.    

On November 11, a national convention of workers was organised by the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Independent Federations at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. This convention highlighted the anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies of the BJP-NDA government, called for strengthening worker-peasant unity in the countrywide mass actions on November 26, for a massive two day all India strike in February 2022 during the budget session of parliament, and for intensifying the united struggles of both workers and farmers throughout India. An SKM delegation also took part in this national convention.

SKM has issued an appeal to international farmers' organisations to mark the first anniversary of the historic struggle of Indian farmers, on November 26, 2021. The struggle against corporate-controlled food and farming systems is a universal fight to protect farmers everywhere. Even in the so-called developed world, farmers are a marginalised and distressed lot, and corporatisation of food and farming systems has left them impoverished and weak. In the developing countries all across the world, the situation of farmers is of course extremely grave. "Our fight in a sense is for the survival and protection of farmers everywhere, against corporate onslaught and abdicated government responsibility", said SKM.   


On November 15, martyr Birsa Munda's birth anniversary was marked by farmers' organisations all over the country. At a time when the Government of India is contemplating amendments in the Forest Conservation Act 1980, that will favour the corporates and be detrimental to the rights of adivasis and other forest dwellers and their livelihoods, tribute was paid to Birsa Munda. On November 16, the martyrdom day was observed of Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha and Vishnu Ganesh Pingale of the Ghadar Party that fought against British rule and oppression in India. Both were hanged to death in Lahore Central Jail on November 16, 1915, on charges of conspiracy. Sarabha was only 19, and Pingale was 27. Sarabha was an inspiration for Shaheed Bhagat Singh. On the same day, the martyrdom day of Veerangana Uda Devi Pasi was also marked with respect. She was a dalit warrior in the First War of Independence in 1857, and fought valiantly in the battle of Sikandar Bagh against the British. 

In all the meetings to pay tribute to these martyrs held across the country, SKM leaders tore apart the treasonous statements of the notorious BJP-RSS lackey, Kangana Ranaut, and strongly attacked the BJP central government which awarded a Padma Shri to such elements.


In a dastardly act which parallels the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, farmers were fired upon, and five farmers were crushed by the vehicle of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders at Ferozpur in Punjab. Farmers had gathered at the location to place their questions in front of SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who was there to attend an event. Kaur asked the farmers to let the event take place, and promised to meet them afterwards. However, later when the farmers tried to meet the SAD leaders, they were stopped. Instead, SAD ex-MLA Vardev Singh Noni Maan and former MLA Jintendra Singh Jindu tried to run them over by their vehicles. One farmer Harnek Singh Mahima was dragged by the vehicle for over one kilometre. SAD leaders also fired upon the farmers.

SKM condemned this grave incident, and demanded an FIR against the SAD leaders for the attempt to murder. A protest march and chakka jam was organised at the DM office in Ferozpur, to demand justice in the incident. Farm unions also demanded the immediate arrest of these accused and recovery of the arms that were used by them to fire on farmers.      


In an important hearing last week on Delhi's air pollution crisis, the Government of India made a critical disclosure last week – it stated that farm residue burning contributed only 10 per cent of the emissions, on an annual average. This is obviously lower than even the low 25 per cent mentioned by the CJI-led Bench in the last hearing, where the court observed that farmer-bashing has become a fashion now and that stubble burning is not the only reason for pollution. It asked the petitioners and others to stop blaming farmers for the crisis, saying that most of the pollution was from firecracker burning, vehicular pollution and dust. The government’s disclosure prompted the court to once again say that the hue and cry over farm fires is without any basis. "The farmers' stubble burning contributes to 4 per cent of the pollution and we are targeting something insignificant", said the CJI-led Bench.

SKM and protesting farmers have always pointed out that farmers are being unfairly blamed for Delhi's air quality crisis, and further, criminalisation and penalisation of farmers is not a solution to the problem. SKM and the protesting farmers stand vindicated by the Supreme Court’s observations, since the movement has been asking that farmers should not be penalised for Delhi's air pollution problems. Despite promising the protesting farmers that the statute related to Delhi Air Quality Commission Pollution will remove penal provisions applicable to farmers, the Modi government deviously brought in a new Section 15 added to the statute that would enable the Delhi Air Quality Commission to penalise farmers if it chooses to, in future. SKM has demanded once again that this new Section 15 be deleted from the statute immediately.