Joint or cooperative e farming has enhanced the welfare of the dalit landless agricultural labour Community significantly in Punjab.With most organised methods the labour has been woven together. Through pooling resources substantial gains have been achieved.
The agricultural labourers have acquired reserved land on annual lease by paying from the very own pockets .Dalit families have contributed money to pay for the expenses of their very own land.
They are now able to procure wheat but also reap dividends.188 landless dalits now till 93 acres of land. At Jhaneri village 13 acres of land have been re distributed amongst 64 families. Similar progress was made in villages of Batriana and Garachio.
Special Commitees have been formed for equitable distribution and timely sale. Each family will get 5 quintal of wheat and the remaining crop will be sold. All families will also receive their share of profit. Landless labourers are now coming forward to obtain land on lease to cultivate crops. It posed a challenge to the domination of upper caste families who took land on lease by giving false names of dummy bidders.
No doubt the landless dalit agricultural labur face a hurdle in confronting upper caste landlords from seizing control of land during auctions, with their cultural hegemony predominant. ZPSC convenor Mukseh Mulaudh asserted that the Punjab govt.should enforce a policy whereby only dalit agricultural labour should be allowed to obtain reserved land on annual lease.
However the ploy of joint farming should in no way subside the class struggles of the dalit agricultural labour or recede its efforts to win the support of the landed but poor peasantry. Whatever short time gains, long time rewards can only be won through unity of the landed peasantry with the landless agricultural labourers, inspite of gross differences.
Activists must guard against tendencies which could aggrandise antagonism between the dalit labourers and jat peasantry when undertaking struggles for plots.
On 10th May the Zameen Prapt Sangarsh Commitee declared in meeting that it is planning a massive protest outside the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s residence.Mukesh Malaudh an Paramjeet Kaur addressed the preliminary meeting.
It is raising the demands of distribution of 1/3rd panchayat land, scrapping of debts incurred and land awarded on a 3 year lease. It’s leaders narrated how parties like the Congress or Akali Dal have betrayed the promises made on land distribution and connived with upper caste landlords and corporates.They also pledged the attempts of dummy bidders to obtain land promised to dalit agricultural labour, Instances were narrated of how in various areas fair distribution of land was constructed an only sustained struggle of the dalit community led to any fruits being obtained.
Representatives who adressed the meeting also included Gurvinder Singh,Bikkar Singh,Jaswant Singh Khedi,Jagatar Singh,Gurdas Singh,Jagtar Singh and Aavtar Singh.
A massive upsurge of the landless dalit Community is expected on May 10th expressing the burning aspirations of dalit agricultural labour, continuing the trend of volatile protests outside the Chief Minster’s residence in recent times.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements