People's Democracy

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


No. 48

December 07, 2008



For Gharsana Farmers,  It Is Time For Revenge

As we were entering the Ground Zero of Rajasthan farmers' heroic struggles, Gharsana town, our vehicle was caught up in the massive flow of people marching towards the Khad Mandi to attend the CPI(M) election rally. They were on the lorries, tractor-trailers, autos, camel carts etc while many others were marching on foot. Maybe, seeing the 'Press' sticker on the vehicle, a few of the marchers banged on our windows to speak to us. One of them, his seething rage very visible, told us "Ek ek goli ka heesaab lenge. Chaar taariq ko Vasundhara se badla lenge" (We will account for each bullet, we will take revenge on Vasundhara Raje on December 4, the day of the polls).

The town witnessed massive mobilisation on December 1, 2008 for the election meeting organised by the CPI(M) in which Party general secretary Prakash Karat was the main speaker. There were at least 20,000 people packed into the Mandi. The venue was the same place which hosted many militant struggles of the farmers. It was here on October 26 - 27, 2004 the Rajasthan police unleashed the worst repression on the dharna of farmers organised by the CPI(M) demanding release of sufficient water in the Indira Gandhi canal areas. The police brutally lathicharged the agitators, chasing the fleeing farmers some 6 kms away and beating them up mercilessly after throwing them on the ground. The police smashed all vehicles, shops, in the area, including looting some. They behaved like dacoits. When the farmers gathered next day to protest this barbarity, they were fired upon killing four people. The Kisan leader and CPI(M) state secretariat member Hetram Beniwal who was leading the agitation was arrested under draconian provisions and thrown into jail for months intermittently.

Since then Gharsana region farmers have been fighting militant battles with the government and police, forcing the government to accept their demand, only to go back later. It is this context which explains the pent-up anger and thirst for revenge among the farmers. All the arrests, torture, humiliation is now sought to be avenged through this election. The farmers of Gharsana have converted this election into yet another phase of their militant struggle. And they are as keen to win this battle as they ever were in their fight for water.

Prakash Karat began his address greeting the revolutionary people of Gharsana who showed the right path of struggles to the farmers of the entire country, many of who were resorting to suicides in the face of deep agrarian crisis. Terming the agitation as a “glorious chapter” in the kisan struggles of the country, he underlined that is the reason why he began his Rajasthan election campaign from Gharsana with this meeting. Coming down heavily on Vasundhara Raje's government for its brutal repression, he said in the history of independent India no other government had such murderous record of 75 incidents of police firing and over 100 killings. Explaining how both the BJP and Congress are not interested in meeting the needs of farmers and the poor of the state, he cited how the prime minister Manmohan Singh called the top industrialists of the country and enquired what needed to be done to ease their difficulties in the face of recession. "He did not bother to call the trade unions or kisan organisations to find out how the problems of workers and farmers be mitigated." The election manifestoes of both the parties were bundles of lies with promises which they never implemented during their tenures. Karat called for taking forward the four year long struggle of Gharsana farmers by ensuring the victory of Pavan Kumar Duggal, the CPI(M) candidate from Anoopgarh constituency in which Gharsana falls. He expressed confidence that after the polls, the CPI(M) would increase its tally in Rajasthan and would strive to see that a non-BJP and non-Congress alternative emerges in Rajasthan also.

Hetram Beniwal, Party’s popular leader in the region, in his fiery speech called on the people to ensure that the CPI(M) candidates win so that the struggle can be taken forward inside the assembly more effectively.

The CPI(M) candidate from Anoopgarh constituency, Pavan Kumar Duggal, is adored by the farmers and people of the area for his militant, consistent and direct participation in the struggle for water. Coming from a very downtrodden background, Duggal finished his post graduate course, and carried on by taking private tuitions. Once coming into the movement he took active part in it. After remaining underground in 2006 during the movement, the police arrested him and tortured him severely. Even today the injury marks due to beatings from iron-belted sticks, are seen. Duggal was elected as pradhan of Anoopgarh panchayat samity during the agitation. The BJP government in connivance with Congress first suspended him and later terminated his tenure as pradhan. Given this, the farmers see him as a perfect symbol of their struggle to be sent to assembly. And no doubt, that would be sweet revenge for the farmers of Gharsana.

[from Gharsana (Rajasthan)

December 1, 2008]