People's Democracy

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


No. 23

June 22 , 2008


Police Brutality Under BJP Regime

Balakrishna Shetty

THE BJP in Karnataka climbed to the throne of power by raising the communal issues like Idga Maidan, Baba Budangiri, cow slaughter etc., killing several innocent lives and injuring hundreds of people. For such a cruel communal party, killing of a farmer who was agitating along with co-farmers demanding supply of fertilisers is not a new thing. What is really shocking for the BJP and Sangh Parivar is the wide-spread protests, irrespective of political affiliations not only by farmers but all sections of the people against the killing.

Severe shortage of seeds and fertilisers

 Karnataka witnessed severe shortage of seeds and fertilisers, thanks to hoardings by traders and absence of democratically elected government till May 2008. For both these situations BJP is mainly responsible because traders are normally supporters of BJP and they want to reap the maximum profits by hoarding

and the internal bickerings of erstwhile BJP/JD(S) coalition government for cornering the 'high income' ministry which ultimately led to president's rule.

The hoarding of 1.87 lakh bags of 20:20 fertiliser of FACT brand by a private trader in Hassan district was brought to the notice of the district administration by the farmers who locked the godown and did not allow the profit mongering trader to open it until it was disbursed at actual price. This was reported in The Hindu news paper on June 2, 2008 by which time Sri Yeddyurappa took oath of office as chief minister in the name of farmer and god.

Almost at the same time farmers in Chickmagalur, Arakalagud in Hassan district, Davanagere and other places demanded for fertilisers and seeds as monsoon had already set in. They were not able to purchase from traders as the latter charged heavy premium and created artificial scarcity.

In Davanagere alone 63 tonnes of fertilisers were seized from six traders after dharna and bandh were observed by the farmers. On June 4, the chief minister after a hi-tech video-conferencing with the district administration assured the farmers that there is no shortage of seeds and fertilisers and the farmers would get the same at their doorsteps. But the farmers were not able to get it leave alone at their doorsteps, even in open market.

Then only the farmers' agitations were spread to places like Dharwar, Hubli, Harapana Halli etc., apart from Davanagere. On June 8, the farmers of Hubli and Dharwar came to the market in search of fertilisers. There was no supply from the government side. They were told by the traders that they have to pay higher price. This irked the farmers and they were agitated.

It is to be noted here that the farmers' agitation was limited to rain-fed areas where monsoon had set in. It had neither spread to irrigated area nor to the areas where the monsoon has not yet entered. Therefore it was an urge of the crisis ridden agriculturists to get the seeds and fertilisers in the hope of getting a good crop. The claim of the chief minister that the farmers' agitation was a conspiracy created by the opposition parties has no basis.

Firing at Haveri

 On June 10, about 30 to 40 farmers squatted on the road protesting against the non-availability of fertilisers. The police insisted for withdrawal of agitation but the farmers relented and demanded for the supply of the fertilisers. At the same time, local BJP MLA along with 15 of his supporters came in a procession shouting slogans against the central government for hiking the prices and joined the farmers with the intention to divert the attention of farmers against the state government. When the farmers stated that their immediate demand is supply of fertilisers, BJP activists including MLA went away. He instigated the police to take action against the agitating farmers.

Then the police started arguing with the farmers to vacate the place and few farmers were beaten. In this background, agitated farmers pelted stones on the buses. Then the firing took place from the police van itself, directly aiming at the farmers in which Sri Siddagangappa Choori, an innocent poor farmer owning less than two acres of dry land succumbed on the spot. He left behind an aged mother and young wife(28) with two little children aged seven and ten. More than ten farmers were seriously injured. Hundreds of farmers were arrested in different places like Hubli, Dharwar, Harapanahalli, Haveri etc.

Angry Protests All Over The State

 Spontaneous protests were observed throughout the state comprising almost all the districts and several taluka centres. CPI(M) and Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha(AIKS) gave separate calls for observing protest actions. Meanwhile, CPI, AIFB, Karnataka Sarvodaya Party(KSP), political outfit of farmers and dalit organisatsions have also called for united protests.

In Bangalore, the protest dharna was held before M G Statue where the activists belonging to CPI(M), CPI, AIFB, RPI and DSS participated. Addressing the gathering G N Nagaraj, secretariat member of state CPI(M) condemned  the way in which the BJP government had acted against the farmers. Even the notorious government led by Gundu Rao attacked the farmers at the fag end of its tenure, whereas equally notorious BJP government started attacking farmers who were democratically claiming their due, within twelve days of assuming the power. If this government continues for another 4-5 years what would happen to the people and the state, he asked. He urged the gathering to unitedly fight against the onslaught of the BJP government. CPI state council member M C Venkataramu, All India Forward Block leader K C Venkatesh, Republican Party of India leader M Venkataswamy, DSS leader N Venkatesh also spoke on the occasion. While concluding the dharna, CPI(M) Central Committee member and state secretary V J K Nair cautioned the BJP government and reminded the fate of Gundu Rao government  which had to face the wrath of farmers and workers during 1980's which ultimately led to the formation first non-Congress government in Karnataka.

CPI(M) state secretariat members Nithyananda Swamy, Prasanna Kumar and G C Bayya Reddy who is also the general secretary of KPRS(AIKS) participated in the dharna.

Protests were also held in Mangalore, Puttur in D K district, Gulbarga and in several parts of Kolar and Chickballapur. In Tumkur, Raichur, Mysore, Bellary and in other places, parties like CPI, KSP, DSS and some local organisations also joined the protests. In Mandya, a procession was taken from Silver Jubilee Park and Mysore- Bangalore road was blocked for more than 45 minutes.

Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha(AIKS) independently organised protests in more than twenty  centres in the state.