People's Democracy

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


No. 38

September 20, 2009



Peasants Agitate for Drought Relief


Krishna Swaroop Gorakhpuria


LIKE their counterparts in other parts of the country, the peasants of Haryana too are facing an excruciating drought situation now. Despite the quite deficient rainfall this year, the central and Haryana governments have not taken any worthwhile steps to mitigate the problems of food, fodder and water facing the peasants or to rush relief to the drought affected people. The state unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has been in the process of organising the peasants and conducting agitations so as to bring pressure upon the state�s authorities for drought relief.

As it is, the Congress party, which has been ruling the state for the last five years, bagged 9 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state; its strength in Lok Sabha has increased and it was able to form a government without the support of the Left parties. It appears that this victory has intoxicated the Congress party, and its attitude towards the peasantry and other sections of the people is increasingly hardening. While the Bhupendra Singh Hooda government had promised that it would get frostbite included in the list of natural disasters, its reality is that it has not to date paid any compensation to the peasants for the losses their kharif crops suffered in 16 districts due to excessive rainfall in August 2008. Last year, crops in Bhiwani and Hissar districts suffered losses due to drought, but the issue of their compensation is still mired in the state government�s files in Chandigarh. For compensation purposes, the minimum limit of loss due to drought and other natural disasters has been increased from 26 to 51 per cent; this means that a peasant won�t get any compensation if his crop loss is up to 50 per cent only. Not only that; the amount of compensation has been reduced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 2,700 and from Rs 4,000 to Rs 2,100 per acre, but not a single MLA raised his voice against it during the state assembly�s session last month. It shows their insensitive attitude towards the peasantry.

The AIKS agitation started in Sirsa district precisely at a time when the bourgeois opposition parties were totally demoralised because of the severe drubbing they had received in the Lok Sabha polls. On June 10, the Kisan Sabha organised a big dharna at Dabwali in Sirsa district on the demands of power supply, canal water, debt waiver for the peasants and compensation for the crop losses. On the same issue, the organisation put up a Kisan Morcha in the lawns of the Electricity Board at Kanlawali in the same district on June 26. This compelled the executive engineer to solve many of the power related problems raised by the peasants on the spot.

Aggrieved by the delayed monsoons, the peasants of Hissar districts had had to organise big dharnas on the demands of power and canal water --- at the SDM office in Hansi on June 22 and at the DC office in Hissar on June 29. Compensation for the last year�s crop losses due to excessive rain and drought was also demanded. These dharnas also demanded that the pension amount for the aged, the widows and the handicapped be raised to Rs 1,000 per month, that the daily wage under the NREGA be raised from Rs 145 to Rs 200, and that a minimum of 200 days of work must be made available in this scheme in place of the 100 days as at present.

On July 17, the AIKS organised a demonstration and a dharna at the DC office in at Fatehabad. Here, about 150 peasants also raised their personal problems before the district officials.

On the same question of crop compensation and to get the whole of Haryana declared as drought affected, the AIKS staged a big demonstration at Sirsa on August 17. On the same day, peasants staged a demonstration at Mahendragarh for the first time. Indefinite dharnas and kisan padavs were organised at Siwani in Bhiwani district on August 17 and at Hissar on August 20. Peasants from 15 villages took part in a dharna, organised by the AIKS at tehsil office in Bhattu Mandi on August 25. At Cheeka in Kaithal, ownership rights for the settlers, loan waiver for the peasants, power supply for a minimum of 13 hours and 50 per cent subsidy in diesel prices were also demanded. Peasants of Ailanabad in Sirsa are agitating for a stop to the theft of canal water and improved power supply. The hunger strike by peasants in Palwal for drought relief brought the southern parts of Haryana too in the ambit of the struggle. Peasant agitation is on in Rewari district also.

On August 24, more than 2,000 peasants gheraoed the DC office at Bhiwani and courted arrest on the question of payment of compensation and for declaration of the whole state as drought affected. The gherao was lifted only after the DC sent to the state government a report saying that 80 per cent of the crops had been damaged. The DC also assured that he would get the local problems of the Bhiwani peasants solved. Kisan actions in all the tehsils of the district preceded this action at the Bhiwani district headquarters.

On September 1, the AIKS staged big demonstrations, dharnas and gheraos at the commissioners� offices in all the four divisions of Haryana, viz, Hissar, Ambala, Rohtak and Gurgaon. It was decided by the state committee of the AIKS in its meeting on August 7 and 8. It is notable that the AIKS had on April 11, 1936, at the time of its inception, decided to observe September 1 every year as the Kisan Demands Day.

The future programme of the AIKS in Haryana will depend on what steps the state government takes to provide drought relief to the peasantry.

Recently, the Kisan Sabha organised a three-day school at Jind for kisan leaders, as the state conference of the AIKS had decided in February last. About 70 comrades from all over the state took part in this school. District level schools in Bhiwani, Hissar and Fatehabad followed the state level school. These were aimed at educating the kisan cadres about imperialism, casteism, capitalism, communalism and regionalism, to acquaint them with the history of the Kisan Sabha and major struggles conducted by it, and to apprise them about the Kisan Sabha programme and organisational issues. The process of organising similar schools in the remaining districts will be completed by year end.