Flashing the anti-imperialist legacy and shimmering the torch of Shaheed Bhagat Singh the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) staged a 75,000 strong rally in Barnala grain market. It symbolized the wrath of the Punjabi farming community against it’s sheer victimization by the ruling class parties be it on issues of land, unemployment, price rise, waivers ,debts ,electricity,etc.The rally was also a manifestation that Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s spirit was still shimmering in their hearts. It encompassed every sphere in which the current rulers contravened the ideology of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, giving him a fitting justice.
The rally’s accent was in the manner the Sikh ruling class leaders like Simranjeet Singh Mann were targeting Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Leaders summarised how Sikh fundamentalist were distorting Bhagat Singh ,projecting him as an opponent of Sikhism They were critical of his assasintaing a Sikh guard when avenging Lala Lajpat Rai’s death . It addressed how today Sikh leaders were launching a vendetta against Bhagat Singh for supporting Devanagiri script or Hindi to promote national interests and opposing Punjabi language.
An important issue addressed was also on how the Corporates were draining the Waters of the state by dumping wastage and polluting rivers. At length it projected how the ruling classes through the Punjab –Haryana territorial conflict for rivers were dividing the people to divert any secular struggles, which had no anti-imperialist plank or basis.
It touched upon how rulers invested every ounce of their energy in creating divisions amongst people on religious and casteist lines and how preserving unity of people was the order of the day. They projected Bhagat Singh’s model of a true democracy in abject contrast to the reactionary society since 1947, which perpetuated inequality and monopoly of landlords and industrialists. Problems of aggravation of unemployment, price rise, land,etc, were touched upon in relation of the exploitative society as a whole. The conference projected how the People were trapped due to economic crisis, unemployment, indebtedness and the rampant use of drugs. and how Bhagat Singh offered a ready alternative to these problems. Leaders adressed how farmers’ money was flowing into the pockets of a few corporate houses. “Our fight is to strangle those political powers who bless these corporate houses. To extinguish their monopoly, we will go to the people and campaign among them.”
The rally unequivocally condemned the framing of democratic activists in Bhima Koregaon and elaborated how it was part and parcel of the fascist agenda of the BJP.It also addressed how the Aam Admi party acted in complete contrary to the democracy it promised paying deaf ear to the genuine grievances of the farmers and keeping the status quo of economic exploitation intact.
An important aspect covered was that Bhagat Singh had extricated himself from path of Individual terrorism and imbibed lessons from anti- imperialist revolutions worldwide to build mass moements.
Landless agricultural workers, students, youth and industrial workers were present.
Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU Ugrahan, said, “We have assembled here to refute claims of people such as Simranjit Singh Mannwho had labelled Bhagat Singh a terrorist. We also wanted to highlight the pesudo inqlaabi AAP government. who patronise inequality. Bhagat Singh championed equality and wanted to extinguish Samraajvad (corporate culture). But now our CM goes to Germany to promote corporates.”
He added that he wants to warn the CM to mend his ways. “Sometimes he is getting students, farmers, teachers and even assistant professors beaten up (lathicharged). He had promised the moon before forming the government but he is doing nothing,” he said.
Expressing his disgust at the Aam Aadmi Party’s symbolism around freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, farm organisation BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) has stated that the legacy of the nation’s martyr could not be claimed only by donning a basanti (yellow-coloured) turban or placing his pictures in offices.
“You cannot trick the people by projecting yourselves as the biggest followers of Bhagat Singh, but doing the opposite of his ideals, like inviting the multinational companies and corporates to set up shop in Punjab, and that too in Germany,” said organisation president Joginder Singh Ugrahan, while recalling Bhagat on his 115th birth anniversary at a rally in Barnala. Thousands of people sporting basanti turbans and dupattas thronged the rally. Ugrahan appealed to people to distinguish in right earnest those forces hoodwinking people. Ugrahan accused Mann of selling Punjab’s land and labour like a commodity to corporates in Germany, at cheap price.
Ugrahan, taking on Mann, challenged him to register red entries against land records of farmers who burn crop residue or register cases against them. “We will see how to deal with it. First, find alternatives to crop residue and then make threats to farmers, or farmers will have no other alternative than burning stubble. We will stand up to any action taken by the government against farmers without giving a lasting solution to stubble burning,” said Ugrahan.
In Ugrahan’s view it would be imperative for farmers to burn stubble if the rulers did not heed to their demands.
Harinder Kaur Bindu, president of women wing of BKU Ugrahan stated , “Role of women in farming can’t be underestimated and today the yellow dupattas in the pandal are a proof as to how many women have become aware of farming issues and need to stay awake. Our basanti dupattas are a proof that we are followers of Bhagat Singh who taught us to tread on the path of revolution.. it is high time to demarcate from nakli Inqlaabi (false revolution) and expose their nefarious acts .
Basant Singh Kothaguru, from Bathinda said, “We have been making meticulous preparations for this rally for the past 20 days. From setting up the pandal, to dividing duties to arranging transport to dry ration, we invested every possible ounce of our energy make this event a success.”
Lachhman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union who represented the farm labourers in the rally, said, “The plight of the farm labourers has aggravated and we gathered here today to voice our opinion. We want to make it clear CM to know that we are being neglected.
Secretary of BKU(Ugrahan) Sukhdev Singh Khokri spoke to me in glowing terms about the rally, narrating the intensity with which it ressurected Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the huge presence of women.
Ashwini of Naujwan Bharat Sabha and leader of Democratic Teachers Front also addressed the gathering.
Leaders adressed how farmers’ money was flowing into the pockets of a few corporate houses. “Our fight is to strangle those political powers who bless these corporate houses. To extinguish their monopoly, we will go to the people and campaign among them.”
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India and frequently attended programmes in Punjab of farmers