(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 15 , 2008
Farmers Impose Kisan Curfew In Kosi Division Of Bihar
N K Shukla
THE three districts of Kosi division -- Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura - in Bihar witnessed a complete bandh on June 11, 2008 due to kisan curfew imposed by angry farmers of the region protesting the anti-farmer policies of both the Bihar state government and UPA central government. It was part of the various programmes undertaken by them to press their demands.
More than 50 branches of different banks were locked due to the curfew. All the main railway stations, including Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura, were blocked with protesting farmers squatting on the tracks. Consequently no trains passed through those stations through out the day. Transport services were also paralysed throughout the region. Shops were closed. Majority of the government offices could not function. The notable and positive side of the bandh was the tremendous response evoked from general people of the region, apart from the peasantry. There was no resistance from any notable quarter though just a day before there was a Bihar bandh against the petro price hike. That bandh also passed off peacefully. This shows the strong feelings of protest among the people against the economic and agricultural policies of the governments.
Earlier, it was a unique experience for thousands of farmers who had assembled at Gandhi Maidan, Supaul on June 4 to hear the Kisan leaders on the burning issues facing them. A Rath yatra of a different type -- a Kisan Jagaran (awareness) Yatra -- to arouse, unite and mobilise kisans against the anti-people policies of the state and central governments.
The Kisan Jagaran Yatra began its journey on May 5, the birthday of Karl Marx, and moved through all the three districts of Kosi division from May 5 to May 30. It covered thousands of villages, as also the Tehsil towns and district headquarters in the course of its 25 day long journey. The main purpose of this yatra was to arouse the peasantry for their rights and mobilise them to fight against the disastrous agricultural policies of both the state and central governments. Also, this campaign was to convince the farmers not to resort to suicides but to unite and fight.
The main demands of the yatra and rally were -- adequate credit at 4 per cent interest; amend the loan-waiver scheme i.e. by enhancing the land ceiling up to 5 hectares in rainfed, dry and chronic flood-affected areas and making the cut off date to February 29, 2008; establish a chain of cold storage facilities and agro-based industries; arrange purchase of jute by government agencies at the rate of Rs 5000 per quintal; remunerative prices for all the major crops; re-start the closed Baijnathpur Paper Mill, Banmankhi Sugar Mill and Katihar Jute Mill and establish new sugar mills in Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura; proper crop insurance scheme to provide immediate and adequate relief for the damaged crops etc. The demands for more investment in agriculture, for more power and adequate steps to restart closed borewells and for repairing of canals to provide irrigation, for proper water management as to protect the region from chronic floods and against price rise of inputs and petroleum products etc. were also raised during the occasion.
The rally at Supaul on June 4 not only saw huge participation of farmers but also had a significant contingent of women. This rally was the culmination of campaigns and struggles organised by Kisan Sabha in the region during the past few months. The rally gave an unanimous call to organise Kisan Curfew on June 11 throughout the Kosi division to press for the demands of peasantry. Rasta roko and Rail roko would also be organised on that day to highlight the demands.
It is to be noted that despite the region having most fertile soil, the youth are forced to migrate to other states in search of work due to repeated floods and consequent damage of crops. This large number of migrating youth often leave behind the old, infirm, women-folk and children in the villages.
After being cheated by various ruling parties through empty promises, the people of the region have begun to slowly realise the need to fight for their rights. In the past three years, peasants of this region led by the Kisan Sabha have fought for granting of compensation for the damaged crops due to floods, distribution of spurious seeds and fertilizers etc. They have forced the state government to provide some relief. Facing all types of brutal attacks from class enemies and police, the downtrodden of the region are waging land struggle in different parts under the aegis of Kisan Sabha.
For the first time, Balram Singh Yadav, vice president of Bihar State Kisan Sabha won the seat of MLC from local-body- constituency (comprising of members of Panchayati and Municipal bodies of the three districts), defeating both JD(U) and RJD.
The main speaker in the rally, AIKS all India president S Ramachandran Pillai, explained the causes of accentuating agrarian crisis and its disastrous effects both on the life of peasantry and on food security of the country. He called upon the farmers of the region to ponder over the past glory of Bihar and compare it with present day's backwardness. He appealed to them to unite and fight against the anti-people policies of both the state and central governments while isolating the divisive communal and castiest forces. He also explained the latest decisions of the AIKS central kisan committee and appealed to them to make the kisan curfew programme a grand success as also the all India campaign fortnight from July 1 to 15.
Others who spoke in the rally included N K Shukla, joint secretary, AIKS, Harpal Singh, AIKC member and secretary, Haryana State Kisan Sabha, Vijay Kant Thakur, secretary Bihar state unit of CPI(M), Avdhesh Kumar, secretary Bihar State Kisan Sabha, Rajendra Prasad Singh, former MLA & Kisan leader of Begusarai, Binod Kumar, Kisan leader of Saharsa and Kamleshwari Shah Kisan leader of Madhepura. The rally was presided over by Balram Singh Yadav, MLC and a popular Kisan leader of Koshi division.
The next phase of struggle will be finalised in the state kisan council meeting of the AIKS to be held at Patna on June 26. The organisational consolidation and preparation for the July 1 - 15 campaign called by CKC will continue.