On 29/10/2021, a massive congregation of around 4000 dalit agricultural workers belonging to the joint front of the rural and farm labour organizations flooded city of Morinda to besiege the house of Chief Minister Charanjit Channi in a huge rally. It was part and parcel of a protracted campaign initiated in a 3 day dharna in Patiala in early August.
In preparation for the march Punjab Khet mazdoor Union held a full meeting in Muktsar’s village Dhandewala. Meetings were also staged in Channi’s city Morinda , Channi’s village Gandhar village of Mall singh Wala in Mansa,Badhni Kalan in Moga ,Bhuttiwala ,Sangrur and villages of Raniwala ,Kotlidevan ,Lande and Dabda in Muktsar, regarding the demands of loan waiver, employment guarantee and compensation , The joint front of the rural and farm labour organizations held a meeting on October 29 in preparation for the march towards the residence of Chief Minister Channi in Marinda.The meticulous preparation meetings played the role of an architect for the success of the eventual rally in Morinda.
Demands were raised for loan waiver, permanent employment, MNREGA to pay six hundred rupees for full year, strengthen public distribution system, electricity bill waiver, ten-ten Marla plots, stop oppression on Dalits etc. Demands also included debt waiver, old age pension Rs a month, sharp improvement in public distribution system, cheap grain depots in village village should be opened, social and police repression on dalits should be stopped etc.All these demands constituted the essence of the road of the landless dalit labour to emancipate themselves from the yoke of equal oppression.
Harmesh Maldi, Lakhvir Singh Longowal, Dharam Pal Namol, Devi Kumari Sarhali, Bhagwant Samo.,Darshan Nahar of Punjab Dehati sabha,Bhagwant Ram of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha,Devi Kumari of Punjab Kher Mazdur sabha,.Tarsem Peter of Pendu Mazdur Union and Zora Nasrali of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, addressed the rally. Main emphasis was on aspect of debts and loan waivers.
On November 1st the chief minister has called for a meeting. Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union secretary Lacchaman Singh Sewewala stated that the administration has failed to held to any of it’ s promises to the agricultural labour community. However he praised the impact of the rally. No doubt it has most encouraging signs for the future.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has travelled around India and written on blogs like ‘Democracy ad Class Struggle’, ‘Ottos War Room’ and ‘Frontier Weekly.’