People's Democracy

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


No. 51

December 29,2002

AIKS Team Visits Basti Firing Victims 

THE All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of each victim of the recent police firing in Basti district and job for one of his dependents. It has also demanded stern action against those responsible for the police firing, opening of the sugar mills that are lying closed, and payment of arrears the mills owe to the cane growers. Another demand is that the centre must fix a statutory minimum price (SMP) of Rs 105 to Rs 110 for the cane supplied to the mills this year.

These demands were made when an AIKS delegation visited village Munderva and the adjourning spots of brutal police repression in Basti and Sant Kabir Nagar districts on December 18. AIKS joint secretaries N K Shukla and Mehboob Zahedi, MP, who constituted the delegation, also visited some places in Gorakhpur and Deoria districts. They were accompanied by UP Kisan Sabha secretary Dinanath Singh and other leaders.

When the AIKS delegation visited the families of those killed in December 11 firing and met a large number of villagers, there was an atmosphere of shock and anger. The eyes of minor children of Badri Prasad, Tilak Raj and Dharmaraj Chaudhari had dried up. They were unable to speak. Their family members, all poor peasants, were in grief. The villagers were asking what their crime was, for which they were penalised.

The delegation came to know that the police firing came when the villagers were peacefully seeking to press their demands. They asked what form of justice this was. When a peasant is unable to pay the government dues or bank dues, he is arrested, his property is confiscated and he is made to pay heavy interests and penalties. But when the peasants ask for their own money lying with the mills for years, again it is they to be arrested, lathicharged and killed by bullets. Despite the Sugar Control Act of 1968, no mill owner has been prosecuted for not paying dues for years, which have to be paid within 15 days of delivery of cane to the mills.

As for the BSP-BJP-RLD government of UP and the BJP-led central government, instead of taking steps to help the cane growers, they have taken many reverse steps to create chaos in the sugar industry and ruin the growers’ fate. Despite the huge sugar stock in our country, the centre has allowed sugar import from Brazil, Pakistan, etc. It is dismantling the buffer stock of 20 lakh tonnes and has also created problems for consumers by putting 90 per cent of them in the APL category. The centre has collected more than Rs 3000 crore by way of cess on the sugar sold, but not used this amount for payment of the arrears to growers, to modernise the sugar mills or to help the consumers through the public distribution system.

It will be recalled that earlier in 1993, police under the BJP government of UP had opened fire on peasants in Ramkola town in Deoria district (now in Kushinagar district), killing three of them. And the fault of those peasants was the same; they were asking for payment of arrears the mills owed to them for years.

According to the AIKS, the central government in fact wants to dismantle the whole sugar industry and ruin the cane growers, so as to pave the way for capture of our sugar market by multinationals and big importers. The cane growers have no other option but to unite with other toilers and fight.

The AIKS delegation also talked to the kisan union leaders who were holding a panchayat in the compound of Munderva sugar mill that lies closed down. Addressing the panchayat, Mahboob Zahedi said the prime minister’s recent announcement of adding only Rs 5 to the present SMP of Rs 64.50 still kept the cane price much below the last year’s Rs 95--100. It was like rubbing salt to the cane growers’ injuries. (INN)