Conference in Barnala in Punjab on February 21st exhibits revolutionary intensity at it s pinnacle in confronting the tide of neo-fascism with record participation
History was literally made at Barnala grain market in Punjab on February 21st in a conference staged jointly by the Bharatiya Kisan Union(Ugrahan)) and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, protesting the Agricultural bills or black laws.
The flame of revolutionary resistance bloomed or crystallized at a crescendo in striking the tide of Neo-fascism at its chord. The venue resembled an Ocean in full flow with an impact of an inferno with 2 lakh people thronging in the venue. A spark virtually turned into a prairie fire. Arguably one of the most memorable events ever in revolutionary history. From an aerial view the scene was reminiscent of a painting exuding the spirit of revolution in heavenly proportions .It is hard to visualise any event in the world, let alone India, displaying democratic revolutionary spirit at such a magnitude. Bharti Kisan Union Ekta Ugraha and Punjab Khet Labour Union’s grand rally in Barnala encompassed 20.66 acres. This is the biggest pandal of farmer labour rally ever.
I can’t express how privileged I was to witness the spectacle of the participants pouring in -Like a once in a lifetime experience. One got vibrations of anger brimming at the very core of the soul of the participants and the red light of liberation glimmering. I learnt about the immense potential the people had to emancipate from the clutches of tyranny. The spirit of revolution was written on their faces depicting the intensity of coal burning. It was a sight to behold witnessing the participants, particularly the women marching in, symbolising the spirit of anti-fascist resistance at its deepest depth. From an aerial view the scene was reminiscent of a painting exuding the spirit of revolution in heavenly proportions .It is hard to visualise any event in the world, let alone India, displaying democratic revolutionary spirit at such a magnitude.
Never in the Punjab have organizations jointly galvanized both the landed peasantry and the dalit agricultural labour in such huge numbers, who literally flooded the venue.Inspite of the setback on Republic day the agricultural community, rejuvenated itself like a phoenix from the Ashes. I can’t visualise any event in India today that ignites the flame of revolutionary democratic resistance with such a level of intensity.
The magnitude or mobilisation could have been greater without the obstruction of traffic jam s or intervention of police blockades.I could witness thousands of people encircling the venue .
There could be no better illustration of how the tide of Neo-fascism of the Narendra Modi led BJP party was tamed at its very chord. A fitting blow to the malicious anti-people economic policies of the rulers patronised by Hindutva brigade. There has never been such a large organised gathering in Punjab confronting the fascist agenda of the BJP or giving it special significance. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan on Sunday dared Delhi Police to enter Punjab for arresting the Red Fort violence accused. He said the ongoing farmers’ protest was the first time that people of India had mounted a challenge to what he claims is a “fascist and communal government”.
The meticulous and painstaking work of the organizations was reminiscent of spider spinning a web. For over a week the class organisations toiled through staging village level conferences and rallies in preparation. It could penetrate all the toiling sections, weaving a common thread The class -mass approach sowed the seeds of the success of the Barnala rally. It was the virtual need of the hour to stage such an event when Corporates were literally strangulating the peasantry and agricultural labour as well as other toiling sections. The organizers channelized the energy of the farmers to its optimum. Great emphasis was placed on differentiating the fascist nature of the Bhartiya Janata Party.There has never been such a large organised gathering in Punjab confronting the fascist agenda of the BJP or giving it special significance. What is important that deep political consciousness was inculcated or imbibed within the participants and not mere rhetoric of sloganeering. There could be no better or vivid practice of massline in state of Punjab .
700 people volunteered to make the event blossom working meticulously day and night. They revealed the tenacity of volunteers for an army battalion paving a path for the soldiers. Given the scale of their event, BKU said it had deputed around 300 volunteers for the smooth movement of vehicles and parking, and 400 more volunteers for securing the stage and serving water and tea to those attending the rally.
To me the conference had great relevance today with Neo-fascism simmering at its boiling point and tightening the noose or even strangling activists or movements by the neck. It was symbolic of wedging the gap between the demands of the landed peasantry and the dalit agricultural labour. There are serious contradictions between them with caste also a major factor. Still conditions are not ripe for a sustained agrarian revolutionary movement . Randeep Madoke who made a film on the dalit labour. ,praised the contribution of the Ugrahan group in encouraging the democratic resistance of agricultural labour.
It is of great regret that other organisations from the revolutionary camp like Kirti Kisan Union ,Bharatiya Kisan Union(Dakaunda) and Krantikari Kisan Morcha boycotted the gathering, let alone the other organisations of the landless labourers. It reflects the gross sectarianism within the revolutionary movement. Morally such organisations belittle the work of the BKU (Ugrahan) rather than credit them .
. Perhaps one defective trend was the ratio of the dalit agricultural labour to that of the landed peasantry, whose participation was considerably less. Participation of Industrial labour, too was insufficient. and possibly even students and revolutionary intellectuals. Arguably even aspect of agrarian revolutionary movement wasn’t touched upon in adequate depth .The critical aspects of proto-fascism could also have been delved into more deeply., especially the incarceration of the ‘Urban Maoists’ also feel the organisations should more critically analyse the nature of semi-feudalism griping Punjab in terms of its penetration by imperialism.
I was deeply touched by an interview of Punjab Khet Mazdor Union secretary,Laxman Singh Sewewala where he touched upon the miserable plight of the dalit agricultural labour and how today the fascist agenda of the BJP was stripping them of all their rights. Even if the numbers were comparably much smaller, a major theme of the event was on the enslavement of agricultural landless labour by the corporates
I was delighted to see a filmmaker from Mumbai Nishta Jain from Mumbai as well as activists from West Bengal and Delhi. I have no doubt that the event would pave the way for crystallisation of revolutionary democratic resistance to blossom at a crescendo in the Delhi United agitation. The coal fire has been lit to turn into iron for the future. I visualise the March 8th Women’s day programme in Delhi blossoming like a lotus as well as the rally planned on February 27th.Here the unity of all the democratic forces is of vital importance and the building of adequate self-defence mechanisms to insulate it from the police repression.
However we must be ware of any complacency setting in and such an organised movement falling into the trapping of ruling class parliamentary politics or regionalist sentiments..It should also integrate more with the anti-fascist movement and the oppression of the dalits and minorities, to sharpen its revolutionary democratic character. After all still the dalit agricultural labour has not sufficiently integrated with the landed Jat peasantry in the democratic movement. One must not be swayed only but the magnitude of numbers but the qualitative political impact.
REPORT OF CONFERENCE (sent by Sukhdev Singh Khokri)
To advance the struggle against the corporate attack on Indian agriculture, B.K.U. ( Ugrahan) and Punjab Khet Majdoor Union organised Kissan-Mazdoor Ekta Maha-Rally in the grain market of Barnala.
The huge flood of masses actually made it a Maha-Rally. Along with farmers the huge participation by farmer and agricultural women was main feature of this rally.
Addressing the gathering B.K.U ( Ugrahan) state president,Joginder Singh Ugrahan said where there is a need to increase the participation of agricultural labourers and other categories, in this struggle, at the same time there is need to strengthen the non-religious character of this struggle and to it protected from the interference of the opportunist political parties. By aiming the struggle against, BJP and Corporate nexus, the unity of the farmers of the country should be strengthened.
Commenting upon the incidents of 26 January, Joginder Ugrahan e said , the Modi government tried to label the farmer struggle as a struggle of some specific community by using some indifferent forces penetrated in the farmer struggle and tried to put it under the attack of communal -nationalism, which is successfully defeated by the people of our country by the power of their unity. He declared the struggling spirit of toiling people, against the imperialist multinational companies, as true patriotism. He also demanded that judicial inquiry should be conducted about the death of Navreet Singh on26th January, the culprit police officers should be punished and proper compensation to the family should be provided. He appealed to the farmers and farm labourers from Punjab to reach the Delhi borders in large numbers for the February 27 rally against the Centre’s agriculture laws. In Ugrahan’s view the ongoing farmers’ agitation is not just against the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre but also the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Addressing the gathering Sanyukta Kissan Morcha leader, Balbir Singh Rajewal said this is an historic struggle. To make it successful, the unity should be achieved by overcoming the differences of caste, religion and regions. He said that the farmers who are sitting on the borders of Delhi will write a new script of victory with their patience and sacrifice.
Addressing the gathering PKMU state president Lachman Singh Sewewala said, the issue of farmer laws will be a great harm to the employment and livelihood of agricultural labourers. This attack aimed to end The Public Distribution System is a part of great imperialist attack on the food security of our country, which has been advanced under the policies of economic reforms directed by Imperialist organisations. He said the agricultural labourers greatly responded the educative campaign held to spread out consciousness against this attack which has been reflected through their great participation in today’s gathering. The labourers will come out as more strong part of this struggle.
B.K.U. ( Ugrahan) women wing leader Harinder Bindu said the women greatly contributed this agitation till now. The agricultural and farmer women are powerful section of this struggle which is necessary to make it succeed. She demand to release disha Ravi and nodeep kaur from prison.
State vice-president Jhanda Singh Jethuke said, this struggle should become a struggle of all toiling people of Punjab, in which everyone should participate. He said to the Punjab government that it should fulfil its promise to repeal the Contractual Farming Act implemented by Badal government and should restraint itself to introduce any act similar to this act, the anti-farmer amendments in the APMC act 2017 should be revoked, the contracts with private Thermal Power companies should be quashed, and the promise to abolish the debt of farmers and labourers should be implemented.
In the rally a huge number of people belonging to different categories of youth, students, Workers, servicemen, Democratic activists and other pro-people sections also participated.
Punjab Kissan Union leader and part of Sanyukta Kissan morcha, Ruldu Singh Mansa also addressed the gathering.
In this rally, the people are appealed to reach in large numbers at Delhi on 27th February and women are appealed to reach Delhi on the Women’s day celebration of 8th march. People are also called upon to observe the birthday of Chacha Ajit Singh, the hero of Pagri Sambhal Jatta movement and uncle of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
It is worth reflecting on the massive preparatory work that sowed the seeds for the fruits to blossom on February 21st.
The farmers laws introduced by Modi government will not only become a tool to snatch away the land of farmers, they will also end the PDS and destroy the employment of agricultural labourers. Therefore there is a dire need for labourers to adopt the path of struggle to repeal these laws. These views have been expressed by Lachman Singh Sewewala, State general secretary of Punjab Khet Majdoor Union, while addressing a conference of agricultural labourers on Februray 19th at Lambi, against the farmer laws, oppression of Dalits and the fascist attacks on the farmers. He appealed to the agricultural labourers that they should participate along with their families in the Kissan- Majdoor Ekta Rally going to held by B.K.U. ( Ugrahan) and PKMU, on 21st february 2021. He said before snatching away the land of farmers, the corporate houses will snatch the Panchayati, Shamlat and government lands and the issues of agricultural labourers, like share third- part share in contractual panchyati land or residential plots of five marlas , will be rolled out. He said,Modi government is pursuing its agenda to build Hindu Rashtra, and its base is Mannu Simariti, due to thise the casteist oppression of dalits is increased after BJP’s coming in to power. He told with the reference of National Crime Bureau statistics, that in contrast to 2015, there is 19% increase in the attacks on dalits in 2019. Denouncing the statement of Modi, labeling farmers as Andolan- jivi and registration of police cases against the farmers under severe sections like sedition , he said, in reality Modi government is itself a traitor which is surrendering, the food security of the country before the corporate houses to fullfil the interests of the imperialists and playing divisive politics against the masses. The RMP doctors participated in large numbers in this conference along with great number of labourer women. District president Gurjant Singh Saaoke said addressing the gathering that Electricity bill 2020, introduced by Modi government is a huge step towards the privatisation of electricity and which will oust electricity service from the reach of labourers by ending the facilities like low-cost electricity and subsidy of 200 units. District general secretary Tarsem Singh Khunde Halal said that Modi government is going to create complete monopoly of the corporates and imperialist on the complete food production of the country, which will create the complications like famine and hunger which will effect the agricultural labourers and urban poor. District committee member Kala Singh Khunan Khurd alleged that Modi government is betraying with the people of the country by surrendering all the natural resources before the imperialists. Women labourer leader Gurmail Kaur and Krishna Devi criticised the increasing events of atrocities against the dalits with make special reference of Nodeep Kaur’s arrest and torture by the police. They demanded release of Nodeep Kaur and Disha Ravi.
Labourer leader Kala Singh Singhewala, Baaz Singj Bhutiwala, Kaka Singh Khunde Halal and Raja Singh Khunan Khurad also addressed today’s gathering along with Medical Practitioners leader Manjinder Singh Sran, Dr. Bachittar Singh, electricity workers leader Amarjit Pal Sharma, B.K.U (Ugrahan) leader Bhupinder Singh Channu, Harbans Singh Kotli and pensioners leader Dilawar Singh, contractual lworkers leader Karamjit Singh, Sports School workers leader Gagandeep Chazzli.
Paramjit Singh Kheowali and Jagsir Singh Jeeda presented revolutionary songs and Chandigarh School of Drama presented a stage play.
At resolution has been passed by whole gathering to release labourer leader Nodeep Kaur Gandhar and environment activist Disha Ravi.
Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) has completed preparations to jam trains at 20 places in 15 districts on the invitation of United Kisan Morcha and on February 21 In partnership with Punjab Farm Labor Union, the labour farmer unity grand rally is underway in Barnala, which will be included by the leaders of the United Kisan Morcha. Giving this information, General Secretary of the organization Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan told that Nabha in Patiala district; Sunam in Sangrur; Mansa special; Khudi Khurd in Barnala; Rampura in Bathinda, Mor Mandi, Sangat and Goniana; Kotkapura in Faridkot; Giddarbaha in Muktsar; Abohar and Jalalabad in Fazilka; Ferozepur Khas; Ajitwal in Moga; Ludhiana Khas and Doraha; Shahkot in Jalandhar, Tarn Taran Khas, Amritsar and Gurdaspur at Fatehgarh Bangles and Qadian from 12 to 4 Railroad will be jammed by o’clock. Cancel electricity amendment bill 2020 and parali ordinance including three black agriculture laws during jam; Beneficiaries of all crops MSP should guarantee complete procurement on mithan; Farmers sticking to Delhi fronts in addition to implementing public distribution system to all poor And the farmer leaders will be emphasized on the demands of returning tractors to the detainees by cancelling the false traitor case. In addition to these demands during the Barnala Maha Rally, the pot of the farmer-enemy hanging character of the Modi BJP government will be shattered at the crossroads. Special emphasis will be given on the importance of solidarity of laborers and farmers. Under the comprehensive preparations of this great rally, education meetings of Sangrur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Barnala, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozpur, Moga, Ludhiana, Jalandhar etc. have been held till date and in the coming days Districts will also be done. Along with that, flag march, hoka march are also being conducted at village / area level meetings rallies. Colorful hand posters about demands are being distributed in every house by printing in one lakh. Hundreds of volunteers have been involved in the arrangements of sitting and sound, including tea and water of more than two lakh people. Meanwhile, huge protests will continue at 42 places in Punjab and at Delhi Tikri border.
Conference was held by Punjab Khet Labour Union on February 18th in village Bhotna of the district. Addressing the laborers attending the conference, provincial president Zora Singh Nasrali said that farmers laborers and all the institutions under their beating need to unite to revoke the black laws.
He appealed that Modi government to join farm laborers in the ongoing struggle against agriculture law, uplift secularism policy to advance the farmer s’ struggle, defeat communal movements and jailed Families should be participated in the Labour-Farmer Unity Maharali in Barnala to show the truth about the deadly effects of black laws on laborers, farmers, including the release of farmers. On this occasion, labour leaders Sukhdev Singh Bhotna, Nikka Singh Sandhu Kalan, Amritpal Singh, Avtar Singh, Harjinder Singh, Satnam Singh and leaders of the Indian Farmer Union Ekta Ugraha Gurnam Singh Bhotna addressed.
Resolution taught in a grand rally *
Our struggle has become a wall in front of Modi government which wants to loot our agricultural corporations.
No one is going to stand in front of the strong unity of Modi government who wants to crush it.
January 26 was a crucial turnaround when the government found a way to execute these impure schemes.
Through the Red Fort events, the government wanted to portray our struggle as a religious conflict that was not for farmer s’ demands as if it was a political objective.
Thus our struggle was conspired to separate from the alliance of farmers of other states and bring it under the realm of communal fascism.
Since the beginning of the struggle, they had made their existence through different demands and different platforms.
Apart from conflict, these communal forces played in the hands of the government and gave it an excuse to attack our struggle.
The wrong act of hoisting religious flag on Red Fort gave the government an opportunity to give communal angle to our struggle.
Along with the Modi government, these communal forces are also guilty of underestimating our struggle.
We unanimously declare from today’s rally that this struggle is a secular conflict. We respect all religions but are determined to protect the secularism of struggle. We will not allow any communal force to infiltrate it. We will put a pause on all the efforts. I’ve been blown away.
We will not allow political parties to join the conflict – and we will not allow it into the hands of any narrow political motives.
We recognize the false patriotism of BJP government. This so called patriotism is for serving corporates.
We are determined to expose it and we consider true patriotism and elevate the struggle against the robbery of imperialism. Keeping on the edge of guided conflict against BJP and corporate alliance, we take all working class, especially urban and rural areas. The poor, with us. I am determined to move forward in this struggle.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has toured India, mainly Punjab. Covered many democratic events mainly in Punjab and written on blogs like Ottos War Rom and Democracy and Class Struggle as well as Frontier Weekly on topics like Maoism ,massline ,International Communist Movement and revolutionary struggles.