Peasants Asks GM Crops, Land Grab to Quit India
On 9th August, Quit India Day, peasants all over the country, on the call of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, protested against the Government’s move to approve GM seeds and to roll back crucial and hard-won protections in the Land Acquisition Act. Subsequently, the approval for GM field trials has been put on hold, but the Government’s intentions to promote corporate interests over farmers’ interests is clear.
Rallies and public meetings were organized at Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer in Rajasthan.
A huge dharna and meeting of 2500 farmers was held at the Giridih district HQ in Jharkhand, which was addressed by the All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh. He said that the Modi Government was ruining farmers to benefit corporations. The proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act would also increase food insecurity throughout the country. The Modi Government is trying to remove provisions in the existing Bill such as mandatory consent of 70% farmers, Social Impact Assessment, etc. The existing law has a compensation rate of only 4 times instead of 6 times the market rate; but the Modi govt, in addition to removing even this, also wants to do away with giving compensation for workers and labourers dependent on the land. The attempt is also to remove obstacles to acquisition of multi-crop land. Farmers have long demanded that there should be a land conservation law instead of a land acquisition law. The Modi govt has given the green signal for dangerous field trials of GM seeds without proper research and investigation, which will have far reaching disastrous consequences. The govt allowed field trials of GM rice, wheat, vegetables, brinjal, pulses and oil crops under pressure of MNCs like Monsanto.
A mass meeting was also held at Ramgarh district, Chandan Kiyari block HQ in Bokaro district, and Garhwa district, Jharkhand.
A march was taken out on August 9 at Lalkuan in Nainital district, addressed by Kisan Mahasabha leaders after which an effigy of Modi was burnt. Dharnas and meetings were held at Pithoragarh, Munasyari, Shrinagar, and Garhwal, and memorandums submitted to the President. The dharna protests were attended by farmers in large numbers.
The AIKM Kheld a dharna at Karnal district HQ in Haryana which was addressed by AIKM VP Prem Singh Gehlawat.
Dharnas, protests, and meetings well attended by farmers were organized at Kakinada, Karnool, and Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, where acquisition of cultivable land has become a major issue.
20 districts of Odisha are badly flood-affected, Puri being one of the worst affected. Kisan Mahasabha workers there are collecting and sending relief materials to the affected areas. Protests were held at different blocks in Puri district to demand proper relief and rehabilitation works. In spite of the floods, over 300 farmers from Puri came to attend the August 9 Protest Day programme in the capital Bhubhaneshwar. After a protest and meeting in front of the CM’s house, a memo was submitted to the CM demanding immediate stopping of amendments to the land acquisition Act and a stop to ongoing land grab efforts in Odisha, as well as proper flood relief works.
Block level protests were held from Aug 9 to 13 in West Bengal, and on Aug 14 protests were held in front of the District Magistrates at Burdwan, Nadiya, Darjeeling, North and South 24 parganas.
A huge rally of farmers and workers was taken out at Pune, where apart from the above demands, it was also demanded that the closed sugar mills be reopened, new wage fixation for workers and unemployment allowance of Rs. 3000 be fixed.
A 14 point memo was submitted to the PM through the SDMs from 14 places in Punjab. The demands included declaring Punjab as drought affected, large scale irrigation facilities, and steps to stop farmer suicides. Dharnas and protests were held at Mansa, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Barnala, Pathankot, Firozpur, Muksar, and Faridkot.
To mark Aug 9 as Protest day, dharnas, protests, marches and meetings were held at Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit, Phulpur, Bareilly, Mathura, Lakhimpur Khiri, Balliya, Chandauli, Azamgarh, and Kushinagar.
The AIKM organized a huge dharna at Kargil Chowk near Gandhi Maidan in Patna on August 9th. The dharna saw a good participation by lower middle farmers as well as sharecroppers. A memo was submitted to the PM through the DM demanding that Bihar should be declared drought affected and proper relief, irrigation, and ration arrangements should be made and proper irrigation should be arranged through ahar-pipes from Punpun, Dardha, and Morhar rivers. Dharnas were held and memos submitted from Biddupur block in Vaishali, Mahua, Lalganj, and Bhojpur district HQ in Ara, which were well attended by farmers. Protests were held at Buxar district HQ to demand supply of water to the lower areas of the Sone canal, and expedition of the Kadwan reservoir project. Dharnas and meetings were also organized at Rohtas district HQ in Sasaram, Aurangabad, and Jehanabad district HQs. Farmers protested at Arwal district HQ and an effigy of PM Narendra Modi was burnt at Arwal crossroads. Protest marches and dharnas were held at Nalanda district HQ in Biharshariff, Begusarai district HQ, Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district, Purnea, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, and Patna City. Speakers at the meetings exposed the anti-farmer policies of the Modi govt and said that the struggle would be accelerated by observing the week from 29 Aug to 4 Sep as a state wide Protest week when protests would be held at various block HQs and demands would be raised for declaring Bihar a drought affected State and making proper arrangements for irrigation, ration and electricity. “Kisan Jagaran Saptah” would be observed from 6 to 12 Oct during which padyatras would be undertaken from village to village and extensive contact would be made with farmers.