Lakhs of farmers came out on the streets to make a resounding success of the Jail Bharo Andolan on 9 August 2018 against the imperialist and pro-corporate Modi government, a fitting way to remember the anti-imperialist Quit India movement against British rule. The All India Kisan Mahasabha had called for the Jail Bharo Movement against anti-farmer policies of the Modi Government.
Farmers expressed their willingness to get rid of the current regime which continues to exploit the farmers in order to fill coffers of the rich and wealthy, under the call of the Kisan Mahasabha and organized organized effective programmes in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and other States.
Farmers affiliated to other peasants’ organisations which are part of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee also came out and in more than 450 Districts across the country they voiced their long pending unfulfilled demands again.
In Bihar thousands of farmers, majority of them sharecroppers, courted arrest and sent memorandums to the President and Prime Minister through District and Zonal Officers with the following demands: complete loan waivers for all farmers including sharecroppers; profitable price for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission; stop evicting the poor without first making alternative arrangements; repair defunct tube wells; adequate irrigation arrangements; end farmers’ suicides; guarantee crop protection against stray cattle and animals; release of dalits and poor thrown into jail under the liquor ban; ending eviction of the poor and guaranteeing land for the landless. Lakhs of farmers at various places including Masaurhi and Paliganj in Patna Rural, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Bhabhua, Darbhanga, Daudnagar, Hajipur, Purnea, Beguserai, Bhagalpur, Jehanabad, Arwal, Siwan, Motihari, Betiya, Samastipur, Jamui, Nalanda, Hilsa came out in Jail Bharo Movement and courted arrest. AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh said that the Modi government has betrayed the farmers by ignoring their demands for loan waiver and 1.5 times crop price. He warned that if the government continues to disregard the farmers’ demand an even bigger agitation would be organized.
Farmers courted arrest at Karnal in Haryana. Addressing the protest, National Vice President Com. Prem Singh Gehawat said that the government is bent on handing over agriculture to multinational companies and is ignoring the farmers’ demands for loan waivers and minimum support price. He said that farming would always remain a loss-making venture unless cost of land, rent and domestic labour are not included in the calculation of crop price outlay. Kisan Mahasabha activists held a rally and a meeting and burnt the effigy of the government making a 9-point charter of demands: complete loan waivers; minimum support price; increase in MNREGA budget; lift ban on cattle trade; land for the landless, unemployment allowance and old age pension; stop oppression of dalits, women and Christians. Farmers in large numbers attended the protest from Karnal, Sonepat, Yamunanagar, Agaund and other places.
Hundreds of Kisan Mahasabha activists courted arrest in Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Bhatinda, Faridkot, Gurdaspur and Ludhiana in Punjab. They were arrested by the police and released after a while. The programmes were jointly organized by AIKM and its constituent member Punjab Kisan Union Ekta. A farmers’ convention was also organized in Ludhiana.
Protests were organized across Jharkhand. At Bagodar CPI(ML) and Kisan Mahasabha activists held a march from Kisan Bhawan through the entire Bazaar and JT Road crossing for hours. Speakers addressing the protest also raised demands of proper compensation to farmers by the GAIL Gas Pipe Line Company, and strict action against the guilty in the Muzaffarpur and Deoria Shelter Homes sexual violence. All the activists were arrested and taken to Bagodar Thana from where they were released after due process.
At Garhwa hundreds held a march from Indira Gandhi Park to the Collectorate, raising slogans on the issues of loan waivers, arrears payment to farmers, free seeds for alternative farming, withdrawal of Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, and implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations. District Secretary Com. Kalicharan Mehta said that the farmer who feeds the country is forced to commit suicide but the government is peddling a blatant lie that farmers’ income has doubled. He said that the people of Jharkhand would strongly oppose the BJP government’s move to snatch land from farmers in Godda and hand it over to the Adani group. Com. Virendra Chaudhury said that the government had targeted sowing of paddy crops in 54,000 hectares of land but not even 20% has been achieved. A 10 point memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister. They also raised the issue of construction of check dams on Sukhda canal in Vishnupura and Bandarchuan canal at Sigsiga in Chiniya Block; construction of canal from Annaraj dam to Dumro in Narayanpur via Obra and Veerbandha; enquiry into the faulty repair works at the Panghatwa dam canal; guarantee of 20 hours electricity at affordable rates; lift ban on cattle trade; end mob lynching; stop slapping false cases in the name of smuggling and guarantee of crop purchase at the price as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. Thousands responded to the call in Koderma, Ramgarh, Giridih, Sariya, Birli, Rajdhanwar, Guma, Teesri, Jamua, Garhwa, Barkatta, Dhuri, Jhumri, and Palamu.
In Andhra Pradesh, the call was observed in Guntur, East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, Kadapa, Anantapur and other districts. Thousands were arrested in Kakinada, Tenali, Mangalageri and several other places. In West Bengal, farmers courted arrest in Siliguri, Bankura, Kalna-Bardhaman, Chuchura in Hooghly, Krishnanagar-Nadiya, Barasaat in North 24 Pargana, Howrah, South 24 Pargana, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur. In Siliguri joint programmes were organized by AIKM and the tea estate workers.
In Tripura, protests were held in Koyala town, Dahram Nagar, Agartala, Gomti and other places.
In Rajasthan, AIKM and CPI(ML) organized protests and courted arrest in Jhunjhunu, Buhana, Khetri, Salumbar, and Pratapgarh. In Udaipur the demonstration organized by the CPI(ML) was attacked by the lumpens associated to the ruling BJP. Several protestors were physically injured.
In Uttar Pradesh, thousands of farmers participated in the Jail Bharo programme in Chandauli, Mirzapur, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Devariya, Baliya, Sitapur, Mau, Rai Bareilly, Mathura, Sonbhadra, Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Gazipur and other places.
In Assam, Uttarakhand and Odisha too, the call saw a huge participation by farmers at several places. In Maharashtra, hundreds of farmers marching under the banner of AIKM came out on streets in Ahmed Nagar and Sakuri.
The role of the left forces in organizing and providing direction to the farmers’ movement in the country was demonstrated through the massive response to the programme. The programme further showed that there was a tremendous need to join hands with fighting farmer organizations and launch joint initiatives for strengthening the farmers’ movements.