Mega Kisan Mahapanchayat launches anti-BJP campaign
By Abdul Bari Masoud
Giving in to pressure from the Opposition parties and farmers’ unions for action against Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, who issued an express order to ‘break heads’ of farmers in Karnal, the Haryana government has transferred him. However, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) is not satisfied with SDM’s transfer which is spearheading the farmers’ agitation. It terms the transfer as a routine one and an attempt to save the ‘murderer’ officer. SKM further says it is protection as well as promotion and not punishment.
Intensifying protests against leaders of BJP and allied parties in Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and other states, farmer leaders said now it is getting more and more clear that SDM Sinha was not acting on his own, and his ‘political masters’ were the ones who ordered the ‘cracking’ of farmers’ ‘heads’.
They also alleged that BJP-RSS is desperately trying to create misinformation on this aspect. They called a Kisan Mahapanchayat on September 5 in Muzaffarnagar’s GIC Ground in UP. Thousands of farmers, who participated in the Mahapanchayat, launched “Mission Uttar Pradesh –Uttarakhand”, for spreading the farmers’ movement all over these states against the ‘anti-farmer’ BJP, for repeal of 3 anti-farmer laws, withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, and to fulfil the demand for legal guarantee of purchase at MSP at one and a half times the comprehensive cost for all agricultural products.
WHAT HAPPENED IN KARNAL ON AUGUST 28?
New rules for the procurement of paddy issued by the Union Government further angered the farmers, who have been agitating against three agri laws since November 26, 2020. They gave a call to stage a peaceful protest at the venue where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and BJP state president OP Dhankhar were to address the party’s state-level meeting. Karnal is the Chief Minister’s constituency; in the context of a programme of the CM local farmers launched a protest by showing the CM black flags. There was a tense situation at Bastara toll plaza as farmers were adamant to move towards Karnal to protest against the CM’s programme. The police reportedly resorted to lathicharge to disperse them in which around 10 farmers were injured and one succumbed to his injuries the next day.
Tense situation also prevailed at NH-44 after a face-off between farmers and police. Stones were pelted from both sides. Police resorted to lathi-charge on farmers. While farmers ran in fields, police chased them. Toll plazas were closed in Karnal, Panipat and Ambala following farmers’ protest.
BKU president Gurnam Singh Charuni, who addressed the farmers at the Bastara toll plaza, told Radiance, “The Haryana government’s brutal action, and the completely illegal and atrocious orders of the SDM to the police force deployed in Karnal on August 28 to “break the heads” of the protestors are condemnable as it brought disgrace and shame to our democracy.” While PM Modi was doing a Jallianwala Bagh virtual rally, the Jallianwala Bagh unleashed in Karnal is doubly shameful, Charuni said.
The BKU had given a call to farmers to reach Bastara toll plaza in large numbers, where they assembled.
Later, farmers blocked roads at Jalmana, Assandh and Nissing to protest against the police lathicharge at Bastara toll plaza.
‘CRACK HEADS’ ORDER
A video purportedly showing SDM Ayush Sinha directing cops to “crack the heads” of anybody trying to cross the barricades during a protest by farmers on August 28 had gone viral.
After transfer, Sinha was posted as Additional Secretary, Citizen Resources Information Department (CRID). He was among 19 IAS officers and one HCS officer transferred on September 2. However, the “repressive” police action drew condemnation from all quarters, even from some BJP leaders.
The Karnal Bar Association members protested at the Mini Secretariat, seeking an FIR against Sinha and others involved in the lathi-charge incidents. They gave a two-day ultimatum to the government for this. The All India Lawyers’ Union also organised a protest on September 2. AILU took out a protest march from the Supreme Court to Haryana Bhawan. Several political leaders from different parties have voiced their condemnation against the Haryana government.
Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has condemned the lathi-charge and referred it to an inhuman act of the police. “Farmers were protesting peacefully around 15 km from the BJP’s meeting venue. It was the constitutional right of the farmers. The action shows the intention of the government seems to have already made up its mind to beat up the farmers. There should be impartial investigation into the whole incident and strict action should be taken against the erring police personnel and officials,” Hooda said.
The brutal action of police in Karnal is highly reprehensible; it was also noticed by the former BJP leader and Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik, who demanded stern action against the erring officials and the police, said Jamaat-e-Islami Hind leader Engineer Mohammad Salim.
What we are witnessing not only in Haryana but also in other BJP-ruled states like UP, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, etc. that police personnel are not following the rule book and allegedly siding with the law-breakers who have tacit-support from the government of the day, said Er. Salim.
It is a disturbing trend that the police force is trying to appease their political masters, he added.
Former leader of the Haryana Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Kiran Choudhry said the people will teach the BJP-LJP alliance a lesson in coming days. “Instead of addressing the issues of the farmers protesting at Delhi borders for the last nine months, the government is using force against farmers,” Chaudhary said.
Even as other BJP leaders like Satya Pal Malik are asking for an immediate dismissal of the official. Malik had hinted that if the Khattar government does not dismiss the official immediately, and take stringent action against him, it can only be assumed that the official was acting on instructions from elsewhere.
However, CM Khattar defended the officer, saying only his choice of words were objectionable.
“They (farmers) were allowed to raise their issue in a democratic way and peacefully. If they pelted police with stones and blocked roads, the action was initiated by the police,” the CM said.
While speaking with Radiance, SKM leader Dr Darshan Pal said, “It is utterly shocking that the Chief Minister of the state is choosing to brush aside the barbaric and illegal instructions as only a wrong choice of words.”
It once again clearly reiterates what we have been saying that the Khattar-Chautala government is at war with its own people, he added.
The farmers also threatened to lay siege to Karnal Mini Secretariat, if their demands are not met.
Meanwhile, after the passing away of Sushil Kajal, who was grievously injured by lathi-charge in Karnal, an effigy of the CM was burned. The demand to immediately sack the murderer SDM and to register a case of murder against him was raised in various districts of Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, etc.
Since the lathi-charge on farmers in Karnal, the Congress has been demanding a judicial probe. It has already moved the National Human Rights Commission, seeking suspension of the officer who ordered the police action.
The Congress leaders also handed over a pen drive of the recording of the SDM Karnal along with the incident to the rights panel. They alleged that the police were also part of the “conspiracy” and they had acted contrary to the law.
“Responding to the complaint of the Haryana Congress, the NHRC has sought a report in one month and we will submit our report in this regard,” said District Magistrate Nishant Kumar Yadav.
BJP FACES MUSIC
Meanwhile, in different states around Delhi in particular, farmers’ protests are intensifying against leaders of BJP and allied parties. SAD, an NDA ally of BJP until recently, that had supported the anti-farmer black laws, is also bearing the brunt of farmers’ ire in Punjab. In Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, state Chief Ministers, both BJP leaders, have received an ultimatum from farmers with regard to some upcoming programmes.
In Yamunanagar, BJP had to cancel two programmes, fearful of facing the farmers’ ire. A programme of Education Minister of Haryana Kanwar Pal Gurjar, an MLA and Mayor of Yamunanagar, and a programme of BJP leader Sonali Phogat, MP Ratanlal Kataria were cancelled by the party when large numbers of farmers started gathering in protest against these events. In Uttar Pradesh, BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini of Khatauli constituency was confronted with a black flag protest when he reached Meerapur Dalpat. In Fazilka, Punjab, BJP’s Surjit Kumar Jyani had to face the ire of framers.
MUZAFFARNAGAR KISAN MAHAPANCHAYAT
Another Mahapanchayat was held in Muzaffarnagar to launch a fresh stir against the Modi government. SKM said that the Muzaffarnagar Kisan Mahapanchayat made the Modi-Yogi governments realise the power of the farmers, farm labourers, and supporters of the farm movement. It also proved that the 9-month-long farm movement under the leadership of the SKM has the support of all castes, religions, states, classes, small traders and all other sections of the society. It also claims that the event was the biggest ever in the last nine months. Programmes for the campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as important announcements related to the 25th September Bharat Bandh, were announced in the Mahapanchayat.
The Morcha, consisting of more than 40 farmers unions, warned that the Modi government’s efforts at repression will only strengthen the farmers’ resolve and peaceful movement. The struggle will only be intensified in the coming days.