Unfazed by Crackdown, Gujarat Farmers Begin Stir to Support Strike on Delhi Borders

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A meeting of farmers at Surendranagar in Gujarat

The agitation is likely to gather momentum when Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait descends on Gujarat on April 4

Mahesh Trivedi | Clarion India

AHMEDABAD – With the Gujarat government torpedoing every plan of local farmers to visit or support their striking fellow cultivators in Delhi, the six million sons of the soil in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s homeland have decided to lead the Vijay Rupani regime a merry dance from the Holi festival (March 28) that signifies the triumph of good over evil.

On Sunday, leaders of ryots in all the 33 districts of the state launched a two-week awareness campaign to explain to unlettered sharecroppers how the three new farm laws bulldozed through Parliament by the Centre will sow the seeds of destruction in their lives.

According to yet another decision taken recently by a newly-formed Kisan Andolan Sangharsh Manch (KASAM), agriculturists backing the four-month-old agitation of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in the national capital will also stage a symbolic protest on Sunday evening by consigning copies of the three laws to flames in the pyre lit for Holi celebrations in every nook and cranny of the Land of Mahatma Gandhi.

Again on March 29, when SKM’s Mitti Satyagrah Yatra (Soil Protest March) collecting soil for constructing memorials in Delhi for those who sacrificed their lives during the long-drawn movement will enter Gujarat, 150 torch-bearers of various local organisations will hand over the soil samples gathered from 150 villages to the marchers at Dandi from where Gandhiji had launched the Salt Movement in 1932.

The state planters’ agitation is likely to gather momentum when Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait descends on Gujarat on April 4 for a two-day visit to give a clarion call to farmers to beat the drum for SKM by doing their damnedest locally for boosting the strikers’ spirits.

Tractors lined up for a protest march which was foiled by the police

“Tikait will anyhow come to Gujarat even if they put a spoke in his wheel,” Dev Desai, social activist and ANHAD trustee, told Clarion India.

Tikait has, indeed, been invited by former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela who had also arranged a press conference for Delhi’s eight farmer leaders on Friday but just five minutes after BKU general secretary Yudhvir Singh began his speech, the Gujarat Police gatecrashed into the venue and dragged him away as well as others for detention with scribes remaining mute spectators to the humiliation.

On March 12, the police upset the applecart of the Congress-backed organisations at the eleventh hour by refusing to grant permission to their well-planned Dandi March parallel to similar official re-enactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s historic march by the Central government.

Farmer leader Yudhvir Singh addressing reporters just before he was detained

In a pre-dawn crackdown, all the top-drawer state leaders of the Congress were put under house arrest to foil the party’s plan to take out the parallel march with 80 tractors from the Sabarmati Ashram from where Prime Minister Modi flagged off the 386-km Dandi March to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.

The parallel march to Dandi with 80 tractors had been organised as part of “Farmers’ Satyagrah”, calling it the initiation of the second independence struggle but the police not only damaged the tractors but also punctured their tyres.

Desai said that apart from Congress leaders, activists of several supporting organisations were also put under house arrest with armed policemen kept on their toes outside their homes since early morning. They included ANHAD, Seva Dal, Gujarat Samajik Manch, Maldhari Vikas Sangathan, Adivasi Adhikar Abhiyaan, Gujarat Adivasi Sabha, Gujarat Dalit Sangathan, Gramin Mazdoor Sabha, Gujarat Sharmjivi Manch, etc.

“More than 200 farmers have died in the ongoing farmer agitation. The manner in which 80 agitators had joined Gandhiji in his 1932 Dandi March, our 80 tractors symbolic of ongoing farmers’ agitation were to join the march and copies of the three farm laws were to be dumped in the sea near the Dandi beach, said Desai.

Ever since SKM’s agitation started on Delhi’s Tikri and Singhu borders, the Gujarat police have been rejecting the farmers’ applications for meetings and detaining them before they leave for Delhi but at least 50 ryots disguised as tourists have managed to throw dust into the eyes of the law-keepers and sneaked into Delhi.

Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.

1 COMMENT

  1. Heartening to know that Gujarat , popularly known as the Communal laboratory of BJP, has risen to support our farmers. Now is the time to intensify the Movement and throw out the Hitlerian Modi regime

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