People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXX

No. 12

March 19, 2006

JHARKHAND

 

Rally Of Agrarian Poor At Barhagora

 

D D Ramanandan

 

THOUSANDS of agricultural workers, men and women, adivasis, dalit and others walked in step with CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Brinda Karat, on the dusty roads of Barhagora on February 25, 2006. Barhagora is a small town in East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, close to the stateís borders with both West Bengal and Orissa.

 

Women, most of them dalits, told Brinda Karat that they get as wage 4 kg of paddy against a full dayís hard work in the field. Their daily earning is thus not more than Rs 20 to 22 even though the minimum wage for agricultural labourers as declared by the Jharkhand government is Rs 72.30 per day. In a year, not more than 30 days work is available as, in the absence of irrigation facilities, there is only single crop agricultural production. The entire economy of the area is based on agriculture and there are no developmental activities.

 

Some of the poor men and women brought their PDS cards to show they were not getting food grains and kerosene oil through the public distribution system (PDS). Kerosene oil is being diverted to petrol pumps on the highway passing through Barhagora, to be mixed with petrol and diesel.

 

Yet, this district, East Singbhum, has been kept out of the Rural Employment Guarantee Act (REGA) since the Tatas have their TISCO factory in this district. Barhagora being the state health ministerís assembly constituency, people here expected better health services. But, the governmentís health services are non-existent, while chief minister Arjun Munda recently organised a yoga camp at Ranchi in the name of providing Ďalternative health servicesí in Jharkhand.

 

The long procession winding through Barhagora roads reached the school ground for an impressive public meeting chaired by the CPI(M)ís local committee secretary, Milan Bala.

 

Addressing the rally of the agricultural workers, poor peasants and youth, Brinda Karat gave a clarion call for battle so as to bring the plight of the workers, peasants and other toiling section to the centre stage of politics, giving new orientation and definition of development. Jharkhand was created in the name of adviasis, dalits and other poor; but the Arjun Munda governmentís policy is to uproot them from land and deprive them of livelihood, she said. BJPís communal agenda is to divide the poor. She called upon them to unite and get organised in the Agricultural Workers Union, Kisan Sabha, women and youth organisations and intensify the struggle for relief, and for their rights and dignity.

 

Others who spoke on the occasion included the CPI(M)ís Jharkhand state secretary J S Majumdar, West Bengal MLA Sambhu Mandi, West Midnapur district secretariat member Dahar Sen, and Barhagora youth leader Swapan Mahato.