Kisan Mukti Yatra: Third Phase

The third phase of the Kisan Mukti Yatra was held from 2 October to 11 October 2017. The brief report of the yatra is shared below:

The Yatra started from Champaran, the venue of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha 100 years ago with the indigo farmers. The Yatra commenced from the Bhitiharwa Ashram in Champaran. This was the place where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was transformed into Mahatma Gandhi. In the house which welcomed the genuine Gandhi a hundred years ago, Modi and Nitish were gheraoed by the people in 2017. Both these false Gandhis came to Champaran to celebrate the centenary of the Satyagraha. Modi was gheraoed in village Laukariya when he arrived at Khendar Prasad Rao’s (one of those who had welcomed Gandhiji 100 years ago) house by hundreds of farmers led by Com. Sunil Rao, a CPI (ML) activist and district convener of the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, who is leading the farmers’ struggle against the land-grabbing sugar mills.

In Western Champaran, Com Lalita Devi who comes from the Tharu tribe informed about the conditions in the area. Of the 80,000 strong Tharu population only a few families own land; the rest are landless and depend upon daily wages. Western Champaran has the lowest wages: Rs 100 for men; Rs 50-60 for seniors and men below 18; for women also the wage is only Rs 50-60. Paddy, wheat, and sugar cane are the chief crops, and the situation regarding water and electricity is dire. The lands are all mostly owned by erstwhile royalty (who still consider themselves Rajas), rich mill owners, and political heavyweights from the BJP and Congress. The population consists of 20% dalits, 18% Muslims, 3.5% adivasis, and lakhs of landless families from other castes. Land reform laws are being openly flouted in the area.

The yatra then entered Eastern Champaran and held a huge meeting at the Gandhi Ashram Maidan in Motihari attended in large numbers by farmers, sharecroppers, agricultural workers and some workers. It proceeded to Gopalganj via Chanpatiya and Betiya. From Gopalganj we proceeded to Siwan where the Yatra was welcomed by a large numbers of farmers led by Com Amar Yadav. The inflow of Gulf money into Siwan has skyrocketed land prices, but the common people retain their simple lifestyle and one can get a cup of tea and a plate of litti-chokha for as little as Rs 5 and Rs 20 respectively. After a public meeting in Siwan, the yatra proceeded to Sikandarpur in UP but the meeting there was cancelled as riots had broken out. Addressing the meeting at Siwan, All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh said that farmers have to struggle on two fronts in these times: they have to fight against the anti-farmer policies of the government; they also have to fight against the communal polarization and poison spewed by the Sangh Parivar. The farmers vowed to take the agitation forward to new heights if the government did not meet their demands and resolve their pressing issues. The meeting was also addressed by CPI(ML) leader Com. Amarnath Yadav, Darauli MLA from CPI(ML) Com. Satyadev Ram, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, BM Singh, R Chandrashekhar, Abhik Saha, and others. It was resolved that farmers from across the country would gather at Delhi on 20 November and protest for their demands. After the meeting at Siwan the Yatra proceeded to Uttarakhand via Uttar Pradesh.