Begampura conference of Dalit agriculture labourers demands land for the landless

dalit labourers

In Bhawanigarh  in Punjab on February 10th the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Commitee held the Begampura  conference on the issue of the implementation of the land ceilings act on the Occasion of birthday Guru  Ravidas .Comprising around 2000 persons it was a most qualitative assembly in channelizing the wrath of the agricultural dalit labour against the oppressive social order. It also received solidarity from sections like workers, intellectuals and doctors. A most meticulous preparation campaign was undertaken in the neighbouring villages .Attendance of women was impressive. It was held in a most timely period, in view of the coming state elections. It is also praiseworthy that it integrated class and caste oppression and importance of teachings of BR Ambedkar. It is a tribute to the consistency of the ZPSC in waging prolonged resistance for Dalit labour rights and defying upper caste landlords and politicians.

The message was most effectively transmitted to the participants how inspite of inducting welfare laws and making promises to concerned rights lakhs of acres of land remain with higher caste absentee landlords or politicians. The polarization of the reactionary and progressive forces at the election time was summarised. The speakers’ adressed the connivance of all political parties with pro-landlord elements.

Most informative interviews were carried out by the Workers Unity channel interviewing a Pepsi factory worker, and a woman gynaecologist. I recommend everyone to witness the interviews on workers Unity Channel. It was most encouraging to witness their admiration for the ZPSC and support for the event.

The worker from Pespi cola factory expressed how the dalits were deprived of any meaningful employment in surrounding areas .Most analytically he summarized the link between the issues of farmers, agricultural workers and Industrial workers and how they should collectively fight for issues. He narrated how grave the situation was for workers with retrenchment the order of the day and how many farmers and dalit workers were helpless after losing land or work. In his view thousands of acres of land remained in the hands of absentee landlords or remained fallow. With great conviction he spoke about how the Samyukta Kisan Morcha gave no support to the industrial workers. The worker wholeheartedly expressed his solidarity and admiration for the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Committee in giving soildarity to the Industrial workers. In his view worker-peasant unity was absolutely imperative and there was direct connection between the struggles of the farmers with the industrial workers.Many a factory worker originated from the farming community. I feel it was most positive to witness a team of workers from the Pepsi Coal factory participating. Wholeheartedly he and his team of workers pledged support to the Begampura conference.

The gynaecologist spoke about how none of Dr Ambedkar’s visions were fulfilled .The implementation of 1/3rd panchayat land rights was of central importance in her opinion ,but still many a dalit being illiterate was not aware of it. She touched upon the ruthlessness of the Brahmanical culture and how it perpetrated exploitation of dalit women. In her view technical institution should have been built to educate the dalit community as Ambedkar suggested. She spoke about the different strata within the women dalits in fields of work .With deep conviction she felt there must be a drastic transformation in the entire thought process with Manuwadi philosophy depriving the dalits of any cultural progress. She gave an example how even in the elections no space was given in the programme of any party for the rights of the dalits .She expressed how Hindutva forces through demand of Ram Mandir were giving a crushing blow to any progress. Small shops should be set up in her view to develop the women dalit community. The education system currently gave scant respect to the development of dalits in her view.

I also deeply recommend an interview of dalit activist 2 days ago of ZPSC leader Meghnad Singh .He vividly illustrates how since 1947 the dalit community was entrapped into slavery and how resistance struggle intensified to a very high volume in the last 9 months. Although 5 activists of ZPSC are jailed he expressed great optimism. He expressed how the social media virtually boycotted news of dalit struggles and conspired to alienate them.

Secretary Paramjit Kaur and Bikar Singh Hathua spoke about on Guru  Ravidasa’s birthday none of his aspirations reached even a touching distance. She spoke about how even with advanced production methods nothing morally changed in the conditions of the dalits.

Mukesh Mulaudh and Tarsem Peter explained how the reformist laws promising dalit rights existed only on paper .They spoke about how all over the nation dalits remained landless and should unite on a common platform.Tarsem Peter in an interview also spoke about the nefarious games of the ruling class parties from Akali Dal,to Congress and AAP and the significance of the agitations of the United agricultural labour organisations front.

Dharamvir Harigadh and Dharampal Nurkhedi stated that the Bhawanigarh conference  would pave the path for the unity of the landless labourers and poor peasantry and immediately struggles would be launched for distributing land promised.

Gurvinder Singh ,Jaswant Kheri,Gurpreet Chatra,Jaswant Dullar,Gurcharan Singh Garocho,Chinder Kuar Harike ,Makan Singh Chadri.Satguru Rajdharana,Randhir Singh Raipur,Jaswant Singh Dhela and Avtar Singh Vandkala also contributed to the event.

Pragati Kala Manch from Phillar staged a drama ‘Aise Chahu Raj’ poisoning the farce of the social system.

A very positive event was the support the Begumpura   conference had of all the agricultural labour organizations .The establishment of a link between the agricultural labour organizations struggle and the ZPSC is of great importance.

Most positive that at the conclusion the participants displayed a do or die spirit to confront injustice and have no faith in the ruling class machinery.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has frequently toured around India, particularly Punjab. Has attended conferences of the Zameen prapt Sangharsh Commitee and regularly been in contact with its activists.

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