People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 46

November 18, 2012


AIKS Condemns Firing on Cane Growers


THROUGH a press statement issued from New Delhi, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has strongly condemned the heinous police firing on protesting farmers at Sangli in Maharashtra on November 12. One farmer died in the incident. Another farmer who was part of the protest was run-over by a truck. The AIKS offered its condolences to the families of the bereaved, and demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to one member of each of the families of the deceased.


The AIKS statement, issued by its president S Ramachandran Pillai  and general secretary K Varadha Rajan, recalled that the sugarcane farmers in different parts of Maharashtra have been in a consistent organised struggle demanding not less than Rs 3000 per tonne as the first advance and Rs 3600 per tonne as the final price for sugarcane in the state. The AIKS has been part of this struggle and have been carrying on a united struggle for remunerative prices. In the run-up to these struggles, the AIKS, CITU and AIAWU jointly organised on October 21, 2012, a 500-strong convention at Ambajogai in the Beed district of Marathwada region. The audience comprised sugarcane farmers, sugarcane cutters and sugar factory workers which took up the demands of all three toiling sections.


Meanwhile, in the Kolhapur district of South Maharashtra, four Left and secular parties had come together to form a Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti and have held large demonstrations for remunerative price to sugarcane farmers. The AIKS has been a part of the struggle in Kolhapur, besides other organisations of the peasantry like the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana. The struggle has now spread to other cane growing areas and sugarcane farmers in Beed, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Pune and Sholapur districts have been agitating with the demand that Rs 3000 per tonne be fixed as the first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. In Ahmadnagar and Parbani Districts the Kisan Sabha has been independently carrying out this struggle from the last few months. On November 9, 2012 there was a miltant demonstration by over a thousand farmers at Pune under the banner of the Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti.It was in the course of the ongoing struggle of sugarcane farmers, cutters and sugar factory workers that this brutal police firing took place.


But the police again fired on protestors on November 14 also. They have arrested 152 protestors while no action has been taken against the police officials guilty of firing that caused injury and death. This exposes the fact that the Congress-NCP state government is taking a confrontationist stand openly in favour of the sugar lobby and is least bothered about resolving the issue through negotiations. It is to be noted that the Congress-NCP state government is in line with the Congress-led central government and the Agriculture Ministry’s proposal to decontrol sugar industry. That is why the state government decided not to intervene in sugarcane pricing this year, even before the Rangarajan committee recommendations get parliamentary sanction. The government is shirking its responsibility and wants the peasantry to settle the issue directly with the sugar mills and cooperatives. The private millers and cooperative sugar factories have refused to pay Rs 3000 per tonne and were offering only between Rs 2100 to Rs 2300 a tonne.


Notably, private sugar mills in different parts of India owe arrears of over Rs 10,500 crore to sugarcane farmers. The ruling elite have not made any sincere effort to recover this amount and give it back to the farmers. In Maharashtra a vast majority of the cooperatives and sugar mills are directly owned or controlled by leaders of the Congress-NCP combine or the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. Hence none of these parties are interested in resolving the issue or paying remunerative prices to the sugarcane growers.


The AIKS, along with the different organisations of farmers that are part of the Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti, organised a massive protest dharna in Kolhapur on November 16, against the police firing. This will be followed by a massive protest rally in Mumbai on November 26, 2012. The AIKS has warned that protest would be intensified if the government continued with its insensitive stand.