Attack on Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Leader in Punjab

ON the morning of 2 June, the Sarpanch of Bodawal village in Mansa, Punjab, belonging to the ruling Akali Dal, came with his son and many goons and brutally attacked the Punjab State President of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha (MMM) Bhagwant Samaon while he was holding a meeting of agricultural dalit workers in the village. Com. Bhagwant was hit with shovels, injuring him severely on the head. A woman MNREGA worker and MMM activist was also injured in the attack when she tried to resist the attackers and protect Comrade Bhagwant.

Com. Bhagwant had been mobilising and organising the labourers in the Bodawal Village against the failure of the Akali Dal government to meet any of the long standing demands of the agrarian workers which included- possession of 5-marla homestead plots, debt waiver, and compensation them for the loss of labour due to whitefly attacks. He has also been campaigning against rampant loot of MNREGA funds and denial of MNREGA work in the village.

Mansa in Punjab has a history of violent attacks against Dalit labourers and activists. It is here that the limbs of another Mazdoor Mukti Morcha leader Bant Singh were hacked off. It is here that hundreds of women labourers were jailed for occupying homestead plots that had been promised by the Government. The attack on Comrade Bhagwant is the latest in a series of such attacks.  

The police initially, instead of arresting the sarpanch, implied that it was Comrade Bhagwant who was guilty of “instigating the workers against the government.” The CPI(ML) Liberation organized an ‘Ahankar Todo’ (Smash the Arrogance) rally in Budhladha in Mansa district on 10 June 2016 to protest against the attack on Comrade Bhagwant and demand arrest of the local landlord-sarpanch and the misuse of the panchayat institution in the attackers’ favour by the Budhladha MLA’s son. Thousands of people including farmers, workers, women, and other mass organizations participated in the rally and expressed outrage against the goondaism and corruption that are rampant in the State under the Badal government. People chanting slogans against the government came on trucks, tractors and other vehicles from various parts of the region to Dana Mandi where the rally took place. BKU (Dakoda) leaders and activists also participated in large numbers.

The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) State Secretary Com. Gurmeet Singh, Com. Bhagwant Singh Samaon, other senior leaders of the Party, as well as leaders from CPM-Punjab, Punjab Kisan Union, Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Punjab, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) New Democracy, BKU (Dakoda), Physically Handicapped Union, Inqulabi Kendra Punjab, Akali Dal (Mann), Nihang Sikh (Tarna Dal), Punjab Palledar Union, Pragatisheel Mahila Sabha, BKU (Krantikari), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, AISA, RYA, and Democratic Karmachari Federation.

Addressing the rally, Com. Gurmeet Singh said that the CPI(ML) has a 50 year long history of fighting for the interests of workers, farmers, dalits and the oppressed. Com. Mangat Ram Pasla said that the people of this country would give a fitting reply to communal-fascist forces and root them out of power. Com. Bhagwant Singh said that the Budhladha Akali MLA is oppressing and exploiting dalits and workers and is pandering to the interests of the rural rich from dominant castes. He said there are reports that MNREGA workers are being pressurized into attending the Akali rally but warned against such attempts at intimidation.

After the rally there was a huge march in Budhladha bazaar, raising slogans against the goondaism of the Badal supporters. The rally passed a resolution demanding immediate transfer of the Budhladha thana chief who was hand-in-glove with the attackers of Com. Bhagwant Singh, and that a case to be registered against the attackers under section 307.

As we go to press, we learn that the attackers who had eventually been arrested, have been released on bail and the serious criminal sections withdrawn from against them. The Mazdoor Mukti Morcha is again preparing to agitate against this blatant attempt by the police to protect the powerful ruling party men who attacked a leader of Dalit rural labourers.

Liberation Archive