India: Farmers’ fight for the rights of all continues unabated

Farmers hold their Kisan Sansad (Farmers Parliament) in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

By Jaspal Singh

The fight of the farmers in India to repeal three anti-farm laws and for their rights continues unabated with more and more initiatives being taken by the farmers, while the government’s attempts to defeat them meet one failure after another.

On July 22, the farmers inaugurated a Farmers Parliament (Kisan Sansad) near the Indian parliament in Delhi to discuss in the open the problems of farmers and the anti-farmer laws. The Farmers Parliament started with a moment of silence to pay tribute to more than 560 farmers who have died during the protests at the encampments. The farmers have announced that a memorial to the more than 560 farmers who have died on the borders of Delhi in the last eight months will be built at the Singhu border.

The farmers then explained one of the laws clause by clause and how it goes against the farmers. Speakers pointed out that these laws will bring misery to all people by making food out of their reach. Representatives of the farmers said that this parallel parliament of farmers and peoples is deliberating on the concerns of the people, while the parliament across the street is acting against the interests of farmers and others. Every day 200 farmers belonging to 40 farmers’ unions come from their encampments to participate. The Farmers Parliament will continue as long as the monsoon session of parliament continues, they say.

On July 26, the Farmers Parliament was convened by 200 women from all parts of India. Wearing the colours of the farmers, they deliberated on the Essential Commodities Act which allows for unlimited storage of essential commodities and leaves all the people at the mercy of big monopolies who buy cheap, hoard food and sell it at very high prices. The women analyzed the consequences of this law and condemned it.

Women convene the Kisan Sansad, July 26, 2021.

Farmers also announced Mission Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to take the farmers’ movement to the villages of these two states. They will organize public discussions about the farm laws in each and every village and call on people to defeat the ruling party.

Even in the pouring rain, the Farmers Parliament continues deliberating on the concerns of the people and the anti-farmer laws, while the parties of the ruling elite carry on their circus inside the parliament buildings, the talk shop of the rich.

After farmers issued a “peoples whip” to members of parliament belonging to opposition parties, these parliamentarians shouted slogans in parliament in support of the farmers at the opening of the monsoon session, which was adjourned for a day. Farmers have raised a slogan Chuppi Chhodo Ya Kursi Chhodo (Break Silence or Vacate the Seat). In order to hoodwink people again, the leaders of the Akali Dal, the Congress Party and others protested outside the entrance of parliament under the pressure of the farmers’ movement.

Non-Resident Indians in many countries around the world organized sleep-outs in support of the farmers in India. Hundreds of people spent the night outdoors in Times Square, New York, in Trafalgar Square, London and in many other cities. Every day of the week rallies, meetings and manifestations are taking place across the globe. In Boston, a rally is being held every Saturday to support the Indian farmers.

A study conducted by a former chief economic adviser to the Modi government, who is on the faculty at Harvard University, reported that COVID-19 deaths in India may be 10 times higher than officially reported. “True deaths are likely to be in the several millions not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since Partition and independence,” the report said. Disinformation, fraud and deception are the standard operating procedure of the Indian government. A minister in Modi’s cabinet claimed in the upper house of Parliament that no one has died in India due to lack of oxygen.

On July 31, the farmers and Non-Resident Indians around the world commemorated the 81st anniversary of the martyrdom of Shaheed Udham Singh. Udham Singh was hanged on July 31, 1940 in Pentonville Jail in England for killing Michael O’Dwyer known as the butcher of Punjab. O’Dwyer was Lieutenant Governor of Punjab when he ordered the massacre in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919, killing thousands of people in cold blood. All across the world, the life and work of Udham Singh continues to inspire the youth and others in India, and in other parts of the world.

After killing O’Dwyer, Udham Singh surrendered to the police saying, “[…] For full 21 years, I have been trying to seek vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?”

Udham Singh’s statement to the court was classified by the British government after the trial and only declassified in 1996. He said in court, “I am standing before an English jury. I am in an English court. You people go to India and when you come back you are given a prize and put in the House of Commons. We come to England and we are sentenced to death. […] But when you dirty dogs come to India there comes a time when you will be cleaned out of India. All your British Imperialism will be smashed.”

“Machine guns on the streets of India mow down thousands of poor women and children wherever your so-called flag of democracy and Christianity flies.

“Your conduct, your conduct – I am talking about the British government. I have nothing against the English people at all. I have more English friends living in England than I have in India. I have great sympathy with the workers of England. I am against the Imperialist Government.”

“You people are suffering – workers. Everyone are suffering through these dirty dogs; these mad beasts. India is only slavery. Killing, mutilating and destroying – British Imperialism. People do not read about it in the papers. We know what is going on in India.”

The farmers in the encampments around Delhi commemorated the anniversary of Udham Singh’s martyrdom by paying tribute to his life and work. Many farmers called upon people to follow the determination of Udham Singh.

July 28 marked the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Baba Bujha Singh at the ripe old age of 82. He was killed by the Indian state in a fake encounter in the late hours of the night. Bujha Singh was leader of the farmers, communists and Ghadar Party. To this day no one has ever been punished for this state-sanctioned murder.

Thousands of young men and old leaders were killed by the Congress government in Delhi in the 1970s in fake encounters. Institutionalized by the Congress Party, these have been carried out by CPI(M), Akalis, BJP and other party governments as well. Genocide in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s was supported by the entire party system of government. Many people noted the parallels between Father Stan Swamy’s murder in early July and Baba Bujha Singh’s killing. Farmers paid tribute to Baba Bujha Singh at a memorial meeting held in his village, where a monument stands in his memory.

July 28 was also the 49th anniversary of the custodial killing of Charu Mazumdar, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) before it split into many factions following his death. He was killed in prison by the Indian government after being arrested in Kolkata without any charges laid or trial held. In the mid 1960s Charu Mazumdar wrote eight articles analyzing the Indian society and state that inspired millions of peasants, who rose up against their oppression and were brutally crushed. He analyzed that the people of India who shed torrents of blood for freedom from the British, did not achieve what they had fought for. The anti-people Indian state is in the service of big monopolies and big landlords, he pointed out. To their shame, today some who claim to be followers of Charu Mazumdar shout that the democracy in India is the “greatest achievement of the independence movement.”

This article was published in The Marxist-Leninist Monthly,
Volume 51 Number 8 – August 1, 2021

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Filed under Agriculture, Food & Farmers, Asia, History

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