Suicides and Starvation Deaths Continue, Why is the Parliament Silent?

Peasants Demonstrate in Delhi

Hundreds of peasants under the banner of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIKSS) held a demonstration in Delhi on 3 September in protest against the acute agrarian crisis, which has engulfed the entire country, resulting in peasants' suicides and starvation deaths of the rural poor on the one hand and crackdown on peasant leaders and cadres using lapsed black laws like TADA, as well as killing of peasant leaders by Ranveer Sena and the RJD-backed PWG. Hundreds of peasants from Punjab , Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar , Orissa, Haryana, Andhra and Tamilnadu participated in the demonstration and day-long dharna at Parliament Street in Delhi .

The protest-demonstration was led by CPI (ML) MLA and National Convener of AIKSS, Rajaram Singh, CPI(ML) MLA from Bihar Arun Singh, former MLA and popular peasant leaders of Siwan and Bhojpur Amarnath Yadav and Chandradeep Singh, Uttar Pradesh peasant leader Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, Mahendra Choudhary and Phool Chand Dhewa from Rajasthan, Rajwinder Rana from Punjab, Vinod Rawat from MP, Prem Singh Gehlawat from Haryana, Harinath from Andhra Pradesh, Sugandan from Tamilnadu and B B Rao from Orissa.

Addressing the demonstration, the peasant leaders remarked that suicides and starvation deaths continue but our Parliament is silent. The everyday economic concerns of the peasantry cannot be left at the mercy of a mute Parliament and we will have to take it to the streets in a big way. Parliaments can be adjourned and silenced but people's movements brook no adjournments. They strongly condemned the unholy alliance of the Congress and the BJP in passing the anti-peasant, anti-worker budget of 2004 without any debate in Parliament, terming it a betrayal of the mandate of the people against liberalization. The demonstration demanded to convene a special session of Parliament on agrarian crisis and farmers' plight, a white paper on the growing incidence of peasants' suicides and starvation deaths of the rural poor, waiver of all pending loans of the peasants and reversal of the WTO-dictated agriculture policy.

They also demanded withdrawal of TADA charges imposed on many agricultural labourers and their leaders in Jehanabad-Arwal region of Bihar . The peasant leaders demanded that the Central and Bihar governments institute a CBI inquiry into the killings of peasant leaders at Paliganj.

Later, a delegation of leaders met the Union Home Minister and submitted a memorandum asking for withdrawal of all TADA charges and ordering of a CBI inquiry into Paliganj killings. A memorandum on these demands was also submitted to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, while a separate memorandum on various agrarian issues was handed over to the Union Agriculture Minister.