A march and public meeting were held in Pilibhit on 11 September highlighting various important issues affecting the common people and peasants in the district. The sham of the CM Yogi’s farmers’ loan waiver scheme exposed by farmers’ suicides happening in the district, non-payment of long pending dues of sugarcane farmers, killing of people by man-eater tiger and large scale imminent displacement of poorest sections due to Pilibhit Tiger Reserve Project, compensation to the peasants affected by flooding of river embankments and thorough inquiry of the death of comrade Rama Gairola suspected to be honour killing and withdrawal of false cases imposed on senior CPI(ML) leaders were raised in the rally.

An impressive march was taken out from railway station to Nehru Park where the rally was held. Comrade Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) politburo member, Krishna Adhikari, member of the Central Committee, Purushottam Sharma, national secretary of All India Kisan Mahasabha, Afroz Alam, UP state committee member, veteran leader Haroon Ahmad, President of the Pilibhit district Bar Association Kishanlal, Advocate Ajay Shamsa, CPI(ML) district secretary Debashish and AIPWA leader Ramakanti addressed the rally.

The son of Ranjit Balaji, a farmer who recently committed suicide after facing harassment by officials for non-payment of bank loan also attended the rally. Ranjit Balaji was among the lakhs of farmers in UP whose name never came up in the list of so called loan waiver scheme of the Yogi government. Comrade Afroz Alam said that two more farmers have committed suicide in the nearby Sampurna Nagar while the farmers are still awaiting the due payment for their sugarcane crops. Yogi’s loan waiver is actually a deceitful exercise of forcefully collecting the loan money because the said Rs. 1.5 lakh loan will be deemed waived only when the concerned farmer who is already living in a state of penury will first deposit the rest of the loan money amounting to lakhs of rupees in the bank! Moreover, many farmers have been served waiver notices to the tune of only a few paise or few rupees – this is a joke on the farmers’ plight and nothing more.

Nearly three dozen people have been killed or maimed by the man-eater tiger in the district but the administration has not been able to catch the tiger while it is constantly sending eviction notices without any rehabilitation measures to lakhs of poor households living in forest villages since decades. The Tiger Project in the name of protecting environment has been turned against the people by the government while the devastation of the forests and environment by corporate plunder continues as usual. The rally demanded a compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs to each of the families of those killed by the tiger as well as to the families of farmers who were forced to commit suicide due to administrative harassment when they were not able to repay bank debt because they could not get proper remuneration of their crops thanks to the government’s anti-farmer policies.

The communal fascist forces have a free sway under Yogi’s leadership in the state and cow goons are working in connivance with the police and administration terrorising animal traders and looting the animals while they are being transported with due legal papers. Recently central minister Maneka Gandhi herself led such a vigilante mob in Bareilly and seized four truckloads of animals – mostly buffaloes – which belonged to poor traders of Pilibhit and Bareilly district. Many traders were arrested under Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act for no fault of theirs. It is common knowledge that unless you pay a bribe to the concerned police posts and local Sangh outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, they will get you arrested and your animals will be seized. Surprisingly most of such ‘rescued’ animals have gone ‘missing’ though it is known to all who reaps the benefits from such loot. Now the already crisis ridden farmers have started abandoning their unproductive cattle in fields and they are struggling to protect their crops from the same stray animals. The fearful traders are not reaching out to farmers to buy unproductive cattle any more leading to more economic burden for farmers and unemployment to lakhs of traders who are poor. Another aspect of this whole cruel exercise is monopolising of the cattle trade by the ‘licensed’ slaughterhouses which are only very few in the state and now they are making purchases at extremely cheap costs in the prevailing atmosphere of fear and attacks by cow goons. The rally demanded a stop to police atrocities and arrests of cow goons and to stop misusing the Act meant to prevent cruelty on animals, not to perpetrate cruelty on both animals and humans.