Rural poor dharna at Varanasi

About 2000 landless labourers and poor peasants staged an impressive dharna at Varanasi on 30 Dec., 2000. The dharna, organised under the banner of Poorvanchal Kisan Sabha and U.P Khet Mazdoor Sabha addressed the following issues: (a) Issuing firearms without license to rural poor, dalits and tribals for self defense; (b) Granting rights to tribals on land, jungles and water-bodies; (c) Allotting land to the rural poor on Barat farm and Rasia Jungle where these people have built up their hutment; (d) Total purchase of and immediate payment for paddy of all farmers at the local procurement centres; (e) Immediate withdrawal of P.A.C and police camps from the rural areas, particularly Naugarh region; and (f) Stopping the harassment of peasant leaders and rural poor in the name of curbing Naxalisam.

Perturbed by the rising militancy of the rural poor in the easterndistricts of U.P. under the leadership of CPI(ML), the U.P state government has announced a Karmnasha Package, running into hundred of crores of rupees to check the rising movement under the garb of curbing Naxalisam. Under this package, dozens of police posts, equipped with the latest weapons, wireless sets and armoured vehicles would be set up in UP-Bihar border areas, along the river Karmnasha. A vigorous ‘anti-Naxalite campaign’ has been launched in eastern U.P., wherein even criminal activities are painted as handiwork of Naxalites. Many innocent tribals have been booked under NSA and Goonda Act.

Eastern U.P., which boasts of a bumper paddy output, has been severely affected by low paddy procurement price this season. Thousands of poor and marginal farmers have been queuing up at the procurement centres, only to find their crop remaining unsold, as the procurement agencies have no money to buy it. The political parties of the kulaks have paid only lip service on this issue and the dharna forcefully addressed this issue.

Addresssing the dharna, the CPI(ML) State Secretary Com. AP Singh strongly criticised the CM, Rajnath Singh for using the language of extremist when he recently provoked his police to kill four Naxalites for every policeman killed by them.”. Accusing Mulayam Singh and Mayawati for covertly supporting the BJP govt. in U.P., he said that without the support of these parties, the govt. would fall. He said that the S.P and Congress, who are shedding crocodile tears on the plight of the farmers, are no less responsible in mortgaging national sovereignty and economic independence to the imperialist powers.

The dharna was also addressed by Com. Sriram Choudhary, the President of U.P. Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Ambrish Rai, Gulab Chand, Sumariya Devi etc. Later, a memorandum was handed over to the state government.

–Prasant Shukla