All India Kisan Mahasabha Holds Dharna at Parliament Street

AIKM held a protest dharna at Parliament Street in the National Capital on 30 September to highlight various demands of peasants, particularly protection of farmers’ lands and addressing agrarian crisis. It demanded withdrawal of anti-peasant policies and to enact a land protection legislation, replacing recently passed land acquisition act. A memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister through this dharna.

The AIKM also demanded to intensify relief operations in devastated areas of Uttarakhand and to rehabilitate around 1000 villages to safe places in that state, to stop efforts for eviction of the rehabilitated farmers of Bhakhra-Nangal Dam from Gujarat and Haryana where they were resettled years ago; to resettle all displaced farmers from various projects including DVC and to guarantee their livelihoods; to give proper compensation, employment and rehabilitation for the affected farmers in Bareilly; to stop privatisation of electricity and water, to increase public funding in agriculture, increase subsidy in diesel, fertilizers and agricultural appliances; and relief to drought and flood affected farmers all over the country.

Rajaram Singh, General Secretary of AIKM said that the land acquisition act passed by the last session of Parliament actually talks about compensation, rehabilitation, resettlement and transparency, but amidst jugglery of words this paves the way for the land grab already going on, on a massive scale in the country. First of all it is silent on the private acquisitioning of lands by corporates with the help of local middlemen by hook or crook. Then, the public purpose is defined in such a way that ongoing corporate land grab can be justified as public cause. In the name of ‘consent’ it only says that private and PPP acquisitions have to be decided after 70 and 80 percent consent; while governmental acquisitions will not require such binding. Moreover, social or environmental impact assessments and recommendations of expert groups will not be mandatory for the government to comply. And to top it all, provision of ‘urgency’ will overrule all the clauses.

It is utter hypocrisy that same parliament session that passed the Land Acquisition Act has also passed the Bill on Food Security. But to ensure whatever has been promised the country will need to increase food production and increase effective area under cultivation. Yet the state is paving the way for the steady decline for availability of agricultural lands. It is clear that in the name of increasing yield, the government wants to force the farmers towards dubious and dangerous GM crops and growing corporatisation of agriculture in India.

AIKM leaders Prem Singh Gehlawat from Haryana, Purushottam Sharma and Indresh Maikhury from Uttarakhand, Afroz Alam from UP, Gurmeet Singh from Punjab and RYA’s Aslam Khan also addressed the dharna.