People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 25, 2007
Farmers & Workers Begin Indefinite Sit-In At Hisar
People participating in the indefinite sit-in dharna at Hisar
THE Congress government in Haryana, led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has completed two years in office. The chief minister goes on assuring the people day in and day out about making Haryana the No. 1 state in the country. No one could have felt unhappy over it if there had been some minimum credible beginning in that direction. Ground reality, on the contrary, is far from the claim. It is for the third time in a year that peasantry has resorted to an indefinite sit-in at the commissionerís office in Hisar division. It comprises five districts of Sirsa, Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Jind apart from Hisar. On two previous occasions, it was a sit-in at Bhiwani and Chandigarh.
On March 19 farmers and workers, including women, drawn from five districts, staged an impressive demonstration in Hisar under the banners of the AIKS, CITU and Khet Mazdoor Union. They first assembled in the historic Krantimaan Park which stands as witness to a grim battle in 1857. In an act of heroic resistance to British barbarism, the local rural rebels retaliated and killed some two dozen British officers at the spot which is now known as Krantimann Park.
These urban and rural poor had come prepared for a peaceful indefinite sit-in as they have hardly any faith left in the government and administration which do not display even token courtesy of acknowledging the demands charter or memoranda submitted by the leadership of mass organisations. So they had brought wheat flour, pulses, milk, dry wood etc. for preparing food at the Padao.
During the Chandigarh action the chief minister had admitted that all the demands were justified and assured to solve the problems. But the ruling party leaders in most Hindi states hardly recognise the basic rights of the people in practice. They are in the habit of distribution of sops or alms out of mercy.
The magnitude of agrarian crisis has further compounded the miseries of both rural and urban poor. The situation on employment front is much worse and so is the situation of food security. The fear of losing the land looms large over the indebted farmers. Auction of defaulting farmersí lands were prevented by physical intervention by the AIKS at dozens of places. The scheme announced by the government for waving off the loan interest can be availed of only if the principal amount is returned before June 30.
The landless poor, especially the Scheduled Castes, will have to wait for another couple of months as yet another survey has been ordered for identifying the BPL families. One can easily imagine how they can cope with the problems of daily sustenance in the wake of unprecedented inflation.
Workers of the unorganised sector are struggling for enhancement of the minimum wage and other issues like social security legislation. The chief minister declared a new minimum wage at Rs 3510 on February 25.Though this is still inadequate in view of the comparatively higher living cost in Haryana, the employers have raised a hue and cry against this new rate. Hence there are fresh fears over it till the official notification is issued.
The Common Minimum Programme of the UPA contains several positive commitments pertaining to improving the lot of the toiling people and disadvantaged social sections. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi expressed sympathies with them on certain occasions on issues like rising inflation or the effects of SEZs. But the cabinet ministers have always amplified her comments, chief ministers have made some rhetoric but the plight of rural and urban poor continues to deteriorate. In this situation they have to take to streets under a broader platform of mass organisations.
This was the direction and the message in the speeches made by leaders who addressed the sit-in. State level office bearers of the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU highlighted here the difficulties and local problems. These included the demands like damages to rabi crops due to hailstorms or untimely rains, deprivation from irrigation of farmers who are at the tailend from irrigation waters, extending of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to all the children of the brick-kiln workers, removal of unnecessary conditions in the government purchase procedure for mustard, strengthening of PDS, central legislation and house sites for agriculture workers.
The speakers included Harpal Singh, Phool Singh Sheokand, Daya Nand, Sampat Kumari, Ram Kumar Bahbalpur, Krishan Swarup, Parbhat Singh, Satbir Singh, Shakuntala Jakhar, R C Jagga and others.
AIKS central leaders N K Shukla and Nurul Huda and Amra Ram, MLA from Rajasthan, Prithvi Singh Gorakhpuria and Inderjit Singh also addressed the people at the sit-in. The commissioner of the Hisar talked to the leadership on March 19 evening for an hour and a half but he expressed his inability to say anything on the demands that concern the state government. The leaders, on the other hand, urged him to consult the government or should facilitate their meeting with government representatives. (INN)