On 24th June a big 5000 strong contingent of agricultural labour and industrial workers thronged towards the Chandigarh Assembly house, creating a dharna.Over A thousand agricultural workers under the leadership pf the Mazdur Mukti Morcha assembled to join Industrial workers, converging from regions all around Punjab. The venue was literally emblazened by the spirit of resistance, with red flags fluttering all over.
Very significant to witness the unity of the Agricultural labour with the Industrial workers. It is vital for development of a democratic movement for such calves to forge a link. It was major step in inducting political consciousness of ho win essence the Bhagwant Mann led Aam Admi party is only a change in form and not in essence. It illustrated the fury of the workers and agricultural labour over the repressive policies of the leaders. One expects a battle of attrition in the coming days
Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union leader, Lakhvir Singh Longowal spoke about how the ruling party assured how the dalit agricultural community would no long have to stage hartals and would be assured of a job, with the farmer’s community. Unemployment would be eradicated.
However in reality the rulers were not moving an inch to solve the problem of unemployment of agricultural labour. Prices of commodities are sky rocketing, From the time of the Congress to that of the Aam Admi party in the last 2 years, the rulers have not even lifted a finger.
An appeal was made to the government to seriously challenge the nefarious anti-people policies of the BJP govt.at the Centre and not just wear a mask of being progressive.
The Modi govt literally flung in the dustbin ay implementation of welfare schemes for workers. The AAP has hoodwinked the Industrial working class about guaranteeing employment .Chief Minister Mann has in no way checked the patronisation of exploitation of the working class, inspite of sitting in the chair for a period of 3 months.
Khet Mazdoor Sabha leader Devi Kumari spoke about how machinery deployed for agricultural labour was damaging for their progress. Agricultural labours are denied 100 days of work in a year, till now. The provisions of the Manrega scheme have been given scant respect.
Speakers at the rally were Bhagwant Singh Samaon of Krantikrai Pendu Mazdoor Union, Lakhwir Singh Longowal of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, Dev Kumari of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha,Blawinder Singh Jaloor of Grameen workers Union, Bhup Chand Channa of All India Khet Mazdoor Union .
Activists also attended from SFS, AISA and DSO(Punjab).
Prominent participamnts were Pragat Singh Kalajar,Raj Singh Khokar,Krishna Singh Chauhan,Pradeep Guru,Hravinder Singh Sema ,Vijay Bhiki,Gagandeep Singh and Pardeep Namol.
Important demands placed were
- Rs 6000 per kilo must be awarded for work.
- Dalit workers must be paid a minimum of Rs 700 a day.
- All attacks on dalit agricultural labour must stop.
- Complete scrapping of Agnipath scheme
- Awarding land for agricultural labour to cultivate at considerably reduced prices.
- To scrap the decision of making Punjab University a Central Vishwadayala.
- Where machinery has been replacing labour, proper compensation should be given to agricultural labour.
- Enabling agricultural labour to obtain production tools and basic facilities at cheaper rates.
- To implement all schemes promised that were disabled n the last 2 years.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who has toured and reported democratic events and struggles in Punjab and attended programmes and protests of the Agricultural labour groups .