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An article on the naxalite movement in punjab
Compiled from issues of the revolutionary Journal the 'Comrade" and from publications of the 'Surkh Rekha' a democratic journal of Punjab as well as reports of Lok Morcha , Punjab.This compilation is attributed to the Communist revolutionaries belonging to the most correct trend even if it is not the mass line in total,particularly maintaining the correct relationship of the mass organization with the party.The author has not visited Punjab ,but met the office bearers of he Lok Morcha Punjab.Although not a member or supporter of any political group discussed the author is a great admirer of the mass revolutionary organizations discussed.
Burning Punjab : The flame of revolutionary struggles in Punjab.
A compilation of struggle reports of he Punjab Lok Morcha, Punjab Khet Mazdur Union and the Punjab Bharatiya Kisan Union9Ekta) in memory of Bhagat Singh's 100 th birthday on 28th September 2007.
Let us all remember that it was Shaheed Bhagat Singh,Sukhdev and Rajguru,who stood up for liberating the nation and not he Indian National Congress.Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi,Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel in actual fact betrayed the national revolutionary Struggle.It was Gandhi, who conspired to get Bhagat Singh his punishment. With other Congress leaders, he opposed the Garwahai Soldiers revolt, the 1946 Naval Ratings strike and several secular armed movements. It was Gandhi who promted the founding of he Hindu Mahasabha andopposed the Garwalai Hindu Soldiers in r3efusing to fie on their Muslim Brethren.Bhagat Singh fought for a revolutionary ,secular, and democratic India and propagated that it was only through defeating feudalism and Imperialism could a Society of workers and peasants be created , with the caste system abolished.
Today our India masses are still trampled by Imperialism and feudalism. Gandhi,infact supported the Caste system and only opposed untouchability.Bhagat Singh built he Naujavan Bharat Sabha in 1928 after forming he Hindustan Socialist Republic Association. Bhagat Singh advocated that revolutionary party had to be formed and was on his way to adapting Marxism –leninism befoe he went to the gallows. He and his Comrades stressed the necessity of revolutionary violence(with the biggest role to the working class and peasantry unlike Gandhi and Nehru.He alos explained how the British used religion to rule and divide(Similar to Ruling class political parties today)His act of throwing abomb in parliament was pertinent to depicting his politics.
It is fitting that it is Punjab where even today a historical mass political Movement is taking place. The Punjab Lok Morcha in formed in 1996 was a befitting reply to the ruling Class tyranny.The organization is very much like the organization Shaheed Bhagat Singh desired. Within one year of it's formation it led a famous Roshni Mela rally commemorating Bhagat Singh(during the February Assemble elections) and his comrades. Torchlight processions were led and school students even performed a cycle rally. In addition to the mass political movement of the Lok Morcha a historic peasant movement is being led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta(Ugraoan) and the Punjab Khet Mazdur Union..Here is a compilation of notes from revolutionary literature.Having already written about the struggles in the anti-Khalistan period I I only referred to he post-1993phase of revolutionary struggles of organizations still existing and participating predominantly.
Formation and movement of Lok Morcha.(10th anniversary year of the Roshni Mela rally in Moga and a fitting tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh in his 100 th birth centenary year)
Lok Morcha-A Chapter in revolutionary democracy
On March 10th1996 a historic event took place in Selbrah village of Bhatinda district in Punjab. It was the founding day of the Lok Morcha, a revolutionary democratic front formed as a mass revolutionary platform to build the revolutionary movement. This front had it's origin in the Front against repression and communalism, which was formed to combat the Khalistani terrorism and the State terrorism in the days of the Khalistani movement.
The main purpose of founding the Morcha was to project a democratic revolutionary alternative in the present rotten set up. The Morcha vowed to discredit the anti-people ruling class parties. In India the people fed up with the autocratic ruling class parties who failed to answer their burning questions like unemployment, price rise, food shortages Etc.were fed up and were seeking an alternative. Punjab had a rich history of democratic revolutionary struggles opposing the nefarious ruling class parties. These included the movement of the Punjab Students Union and the Naujavan Bharat Sabha in the late 70's and the programmes of the anti-communal and anti-repression front in the mid- 80's and early 90's. Such struggles were in direct contrast to the electoral politics in the of the Ruling Congress and Akali Dal politics which attempted to divide people on religious lines to divert the people from their burning problems.
Leaders like Nehru and Gandhi were at the forefront of suppressing militant Struggles against the British Empire. In 1931 Gandhi conspired with the British in Bhagat Singh's hanging. Bhagat Singh was leading a militant anti-colonial movement against the British. With comrades Sukhdev and Rajguru he flung a bomb in the British assembly hall in Delhi. The bomb was intended to kill no one but just thrown as a symbolic protest opposing a bill passed in parliament. Gandhi pretended to plead for Bhagat Singh but actually persuaded the British to sentence him, as he was a major danger to the British regime. In 1938 in Garwhal, in U.P State. Hindu Soldiers laid down their arms and refused to fire on Muslims. Gandhi opposed this action stating that it is a soldier's duty to oppose the oath he has taken. Similarly in 1946 the Congress opposed a naval Mutiny where the navy revolted and refused to obey the British.
The Congress supported the British in suppressing the Struggle. After 1947 the Nehru led Congress captured power from the British they brutally suppressed the Communist led Telengana Peasant Struggle using the Indian Army! Since 1947 the Indian Ruling political parties continued to follow the path of the British Colonialists and was subservient to Imperialism. Struggles of the peasants for land opposing landlordism and the Working class for democratic Rights have been put down. Majority of Peasants have remained landless and been unable to repay their loans and workers have often been denied minimum wages and been retrenched as a result of closure of factories or substitution of machinery. Using communalism, like the Babri Masjid (Mosque which the Communal Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad targeted and destroyed in 1992 causing major riots) and Hindutva (movement for Hindu Revivalism) issue the ruling parties succeeded in diverting the masses from their genuine problems.
In it's manifesto the Morcha vowed to wage an undaunted struggle to achieve real Independence (It was a transfer of power), which the Congress leaders who captured power in 1947 did not achieve. It would wage a protracted war against the foreign Imperialists. A relentless Struggle would be waged against the Imperialist Forces as well as against pro-Imperialist and anti-National People Forces. The Lok Morcha would also bitterly combat autocratic forces opposed to democracy to achieve democratization in all fields of life. It would strive to fight the landlords who enslaved the Peasantry and the Comprador Industrialists who enslaved the Working Class. To achieve their objective the Morcha would educate and organize the masses and attempt to build broad democratic people's revolutionary movement representing the People's demands. Finally the Morcha would also give solidarity and morale support to other struggling democratic organizations and help them build their struggles.
In October 1995 a founding preparatory committee was formed to form a mass political platform A 4 page leaflet was distributed all over Punjab, in villages and towns explaining the theme of the platform. Later the preparatory committee converted itself into the preparatory committee of the Lok Morcha Punjab. In February 1996,this preparatory committee issued it's draft manifesto and draft constitution and circulated it amongst sympathizers. On March 9 th the founding convention was held in Selbrah consisting of 90 delegates. A draft manifesto and Constitution was adopted. Amolak Singh was chosen as state secretary while N.K.Jeet was chosen as President. A State committee was chosen of people who all belonged to struggling sections. The Conference planned to hold a Martyrs conferenc43e to commemorate the people's martyrs especially those of the Freedom movement.
Subsequently a huge poster was printed calling upon people to participate in the Conference on 31st March.10, 000 posters were posted while 20,000 leaflets were distributed all over the State. Meetings were held at workers houses or colonies, villages, Factories Etc.explaining people the objectives of the Lok Morcha.The state of the Indian toiling sec tions and how the imperialist onslaught of globalization had enslaved them had been explained. A huge fund collection was also launched. A special leaflet was prepared for the spinning Mill Workers of Bhatinda was prepared and a flag march was held on March 29 th in Industrial Areas.
A jeep-load of Morcha Supporters spread the message of the Conference in Villages. In addition to that videotapes of revolutionary plays were shown. A significant contribution in the preparations for the Conference was staged by the Youth. They participated in transporting of Kitchen materials from the town to the village, storage of water, collection of milk Etc.Separate committees were launched to erect the stage, serve water, prepare tea, serve tea, clean utensils, maintain security, medical help.Etc.A well planned security –Set Up was installed with volunteers armed with firearms.
The Conference Venue and the gate of the Pandal was decorated with flags and banners exhibiting the Morcha Slogans. It almost seemed a formality that a festival of the masses was to take place. On the night preceding the Conference, a contingent of 50 youth took out an awakening procession ringing revolutionary bells. The leaders of the Morcha subsequently engaged themselves in a propoganda programme for the final convention.The convention was to take place in Selbrah.However their propoganda was almost disrupted by another organisation,the Lok Sangram Morcha.This organisation propagated against the Lok Morcha. However, people opposed their disruptionist role and ultimately they had to admit their mistake.The Lok Morcha refuted the disruptionists programme effectively and the people stood by their side.
On the day of the Conference on 31st March 12,000 people assembled from the peasants, rural labour, Industrial Workers, employees, Youth, Women Etc.The majority of people assembled came from the poor peasantry and rural labour. The agricultural labourers and landless peasants from the Harijan (Backward class people who have been discriminated for Centuries) community represented the majority of them.
At 120'Clock the Conference started with a cultural programme by the Amritsar Natak Kela Kendra.After that several speeches were made which were interrupted by revolutionary Songs, action Songs, and choreographies of the hardships sorrows and aspirations of the toiling masses. The father of martyr Jagpal Singh, a prominent leader of the Front against Repression and Communalism released the manifesto.
That Front had waged a heroic mass Struggle against the Khalistani and State terrorism. It taught the Punjabi masses their ability to carry out mass revolutionary resistance and Self defence against the twin terror of the Khalistani terrorism and the State. The Khalistani movement had been a fascist Sikh liberation communal movement (Refer to Article on Burning Punjab). They had a fascistic religious fundamentalist code and forced people to surrender to their programme under the butt of machine guns. He described programmes of the Front like the Moga rally in 1987 where the people launched heroic resistance Under the initiative of the Front the masses heroically resisted the fascist programme of the Khalistani forces and in several villages and towns beat up such forces. The villagers organized their own self-defence against the tyrants .
Amolak Singh, Lok Morcha Secretary made the most significant speech. He described the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.Amolak described Bhagat Singh's aspirations of a society liberated from the shackles of Imperialism. That society would be liberated from the yoke of casteism, communalism, landlordism, and Capitalism. He explained how the State suppressed the people's movements and told the people that ballots could never change the lives of the people. Imperialism, Feudalism and the big bourgeoise had to be overthrown. Only a people's revolution would bring about the change. Amolak's voice reverberated in the revolutionary masses like a red flame glowing in their hearts.
The dramatist Gursharan Singh addressed the conference stating that such gatherings inspired people to rise up in revolt. Finally the Conference concluded with the Village head thanking the participants and organizers and promising his support to the Lok Morcha .
Prominent Struggles of the Lok Morcha,Punjab
The Lok Morcha Punjab has launched significant struggles to launch a democratic revolutionary Alternative in Punjab. After the Innaugural Conference it launched several programmes on the real face of Indian Independence. In 1997, they launched 2 programmes of particular significance in Kapurthala district and Ludhiana.In Kapurthala, the Morcha passed through 8 villages spreading the message "Recognize the real face of Indian Independence. The masses were so overwhelmed by the slogans of the Morcha that welcomed the marchers with tea and snacks.
In Bara Pind village about 700-8000 people including women and children participated. Of particular relevance is an incident in village Duleta where a dead body of a young man was to reach the village from abroad on the same day. That man had gone abroad for a job. Inspite of this the villagers insisted that the programme of the Morcha should go on. They said to the Morcha leaders "Why are you canceling the ProgrammeYou have not come here for merry making. You will also talk about unemployment and other problems, because of which our boys have to go abroad. Your function will reduce the burden of grief on the villagers." Subsequently a successful march and rally was held.
In Ludhiana City impressive rallies were organized in which hundreds of people carried banners raising slogans' Down with Fake Independence!" Similar rallies were held in Bhatinda, Faridkot (In Malout Town) and Jalandhar.(Nakodar town)
In addition to this the Lok Morcha carried out a 15-day campaign commemorating anti-colonial martyr, Udham Singh. In Banga-Nawan Shahar are committee the Morcha organized a march in the area as part of the campaignThe march began in village Gunachour and passed through 5 villages, concluding in Khatkar Kalan,village of martyr Bhagat Singh.150 to 200 people assembled to participate in the March.
In Phagwara-Goraya a seminar was organized in the freedom fighters hall in Phagwara town. The complex was under the charge of a freedom fighters trust. The office bearers of the trust were a disillusioned lot, disgusted with the result of the Indian Independence movement. The president of the trust never allowed any political party to use the freedom fighters hall but responded to the Lok Morcha's call .To the Morcha's surprise the President when approached, demanded literature and documents of the Morcha and welcomed the Morcha in staging the seminar. Inspite of being a Gandhian he praised the Morcha's objectives! 100 people participated in the seminar, which was a greats success.
In Amritsar district in Fategarh Churian, a public function was hosted in which 2000 people gathered to hear the Lok Morcha's views on Udham Sdingh.
In July 1996 the Lok Morcha Unit in Bhatinda city took up programmes against Price Rise of petroleum products. The Morcha activists approached government employees, taxi-owners and drivers and the City's poor. A similar programme was taken up in Ludhiana.In Faridkot a leaflet was issued against Price Rise of petroleum products. Later the Bhatinda Morcha Committee took out an intensive campaign against the sharp rise in prices of wheat flour.
The Lok Morcha held activities against atrocities on women. A 7-year-old Nepali girl of a labouring family was raped by a Punjabi tubewell operator. The girl was bleeding unconscious and factory workers struck work for hours. The Parents reported the matter to the police but the police failed to act. After 2 days when the girl regained consciousness, she identified the culprit in the presence of the police but the supporters of the Culprit attempted to save the culprit. A Morcha leader offered help but the girl's parents could not believe that a Punjabi could go against a Punjabi.
Ultimately the Morcha activist won the Parent's confidence. The Involvement of the Morcha enabled the culprit to be arrested. However the police refused to file a case. The supporters of the Culprit threatened the parents of the girl to compromise. As a result of continuous mobilizations by the Morcha to file a case against the Culprit the police officers were forced to register a case.
Prominent campaigns of the Lok Morcha
However The Lok Morcha has made it's most significant impact in democratic Revolutionary Politics in the Election Campaigns. In 3 campaigns they most effectively carried out the revolutionary message to the masses under the leadership of the revolutionary Group implementing the mass line. In all these campaigns the nefarious anti-people policies of the Ruling Akali Dal Party (Party representing Sikh people) and the Congress were exposed.
Lok Morcha election campaigns
Since it's inception the Lok Morcha has carried out significant political campaigns.An example is their campaign in the elections .
In February 1997 during the State Assembly elections they carried out a famous rally exposing the ruling class politics in Moga.Here they launched historic torchlight rallies of peasants and youth commemorating Bhagat Singh and launching slogans for the rule of the toiling people..The majority of people who participated in the election campaign were the agricultural labourers and poor peasants.Electricity Workers,Industrial Workers and migrant labourers too,made a significant contribution.
However the most remarkable aspect of the campaign was the participation of women and Children.Women and Cildren carried flags and shouted Slogans.A spectator commented "I have never seen women in such large numbers in such an enthusiastic mood I a conference of any political party.Revolutionary Activities took place all over the State.In Bhatinda Awakening Processions took place in different working class areas singing revolutionary songs.The masses could link the activities of the Morcha with their day to day Problems like cheap rationing and drainageIn Moga District,activists of the Punjab Agricultural Workers Union organized flag marches in houses of scheduled or backward caste labourers.
In Malot Region there was an ttempt of the Rich peasants to boycott the scheduled Castes.I response 2 groups of Agricultural labourers traveled around the villages organizing meetings of Harijans.The meetings had the effect of lightning bursting on the Harijans.For the Conference on February1st 25,000 multi-coloured posters,80,000leaflets,20,000 pamphlets,thousands of paper flags and Logos of the Lok Morcha as well as a special issue of "Muti Marg",a revolutionary Monthly were brought out.
The rally on February 1st proved to be a great success.The people were deeply impressed by the revolutionary Democratic message of the Morcha in the rally which was addressed by the Morcha Secretay Amolak Singh,the Morcha President,N,K,Jeet,the Agricultural Labour Union Secretary Laxman Singh Sewewala and the Electricity Workers Leader Karora Singh.In all the ares where the Lok MorchaCmpaigned the common people showed bitter resntment6 with the ruling Class Parties.After the Speeches a huge rally took place comprising sections of all progressive classes.The scene was like a volcano erupting.
On March 23rd the martyrdom day of Anti-colonial Martyrs Bhagat Singh Sukhdev and Rajguru Illumination festivals were launched by the Lok Morcha with the Punjab Agricultural Workers Union..They were held throughout the night at Hussainiwala and Khatkar Kalan.A huge martyrdom Conference was held on March 23rd in Talwandi Salem ,home of the martyred revolutionary Poet Paash who had been slained by Khalistani terrorists.This time no intensive mobilization was done but the campaigns were launched on the basis of volunteer participation of the ranks of revolutionary organizations.Wall Posters were pasted throughout Punjab and a leaflet was distributed throughout the State.
700 men women and Children converged into Ferozepur to participate in the Illumination festivalsFlags,banners,torches,photos of Martyrs were displayed.The New Delhi Ferozepur Train was virtually captured by revolutionary teams who boarded the train from different stations.The train coaches swarmed with red flags.For ordinary passengers entering the trai it was like stepping on a bed of red roses.Red lamps seemed to have lit the coaches.
In Bhatinda district school youth launched a bicycle rally commemorating the Martyrs.In Balahar Vinju a rally was held while in Village Sewewala hundreds of villagers received the marchers.This village was where the Khalistani terrorists assainated 13 Activists of the anti communal Front in 1991.A tribute was pledged to the Seweala Martyrs.
At 8p.m on March 23rd a contingent with glowing torchesassembled at Ferozepur Station.A red Flame appeared to have lit the assembling place.Slogans were raised in memory of the Martyrs.Speakers of the Rally included Amolak Singh,(Morcha Secretary)Laxman Singh Sewewala,(P.K.M.U.Secretary)Karora Singh(Electricity Workers Leader) and Shanker Das(Revolutionary Group Leader)In detail the speakers explained the pro-british collaborationist policies of the Gandhian Indian National Congress Rulers and how the policies of Bhagat Singh,Sukhdev and Rajguru unaware in total contrast to them.
The need for Revolutionary violence aginst the present ruling and oppressor classes was explained.The next day in a most emotional manner at Hussaina wala the marchers paid homahe to martys Bhagat Singh,Sukhdev and RajguruA long procession crossed the Sutlej River by bridge singing revolutionary Songs.In the early hours of the morning the participants reached Hussainiwala memorial of the Martyrs.The emotion s felt were indescribable
1998 Election Campaign
The first election campaign was carried out in 1998 January and called the 'Inquilab Zindabad'campaign.Here the Lok Morcha jointly with the P.K.M.U,the C.P.R.C.I(M.L),upheld the politics of 'active political campaign' in contrast to 'participation' in election or calling for 'Active Boycott'of parliamentary elections.This was in contrast to organizations like the C.P.I.-M.L(Party Unity),Jamhoori Morcha ,Punjab and Lok Sangram Manch who called for 'Boycott of election,' and to forces like the C.P.I-M.L(Janashakti) and the C.P.I-M.L(Liberation ) who staged candidates.The Lok Morha campaign projected the revolutionary alternative and exposed the pseudo democracy.
The organizers of the campaign significantly attacked the present parliamentary system its various institutions, the ruling class vote parties,etc.The state Committee of the Lok Morcha ,Punjab ,held a series of meetings of all it's lower units and activists. Emphasis was placed on projecting the revolutionary alternative programme. Through this the lower units were given greater initiative to launch the campaign.T his decentralization had a subtle effect on the revolutionary consciousness of the broad masses and led to propaganda reaching a wider range of sections.
. It dealt with issues of all kinds like imperialism and Globalisation, Democratic Rights, Communalism, Kashmir Issue Etc. Demands included repealing of black Laws, Withdrawal of troops from Kashmir, Cancellation of all foreign debt, remunerative prices for farmers and scrapping of loan repayments for the peasantry, re-distribution of land to the landless and poor peasantry, release of all political prisoners in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh and lifting of the ban on the People's War Group and democratic mass organizations, opposing the I.M.F and demanding permanency of all workers, opposing illegal closure of factories Etc.The Morcha demanded a revolutionary alternative and enhanced the masses to build their revolutionary Struggles. They explained the masses that for 50 years the various political parties that seized the chair failed to satisfy the democratic aspiration of the working people. From the Congress to the Janata Party and Janata Dal to the Bharatiya Janata party all the vote -seeking parties had been stooges of imperialism and instrumental in suppressing or diverting the the mass democratic Struggles of the masses. With the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (Agricultural Workers Union) the Morcha launched an "Inquilab Zindabad Campaign"(Long Live the Revolution Campaign)
Through this campaign the organizers attacked the parliamentary system and the organs that virtually represented the upper classes. The Imperialist exploitation of cheap Indian labour, unprecedented corruption, great number of families living below the poverty line, the retrenchment of labour and the rise of unemployment as a result of globalisation, rising prices of essential commodities was all connected to the imperialist onslaught on the nation. The Ruling class policies fattened imperialist Capital, comprador capital and the powers of the landlords and the Industrialists.
Activists of the Morcha explained that only by confiscating the land of the landlords without any compensation and distributing it among the landless and poor peasants, by total confiscation of foreign capital, taking over all comprador capital, and by canceelling all foreign debt can a democratic society exist. The organizers explained the need for a broad agrarian revolutionary movement to achieve a democratic society and stressed the different districtsimportance of the masses organizing themselves in revolutionary democratic Struggles. T he concept of the Peoples Democratic state was projected. The organizers called for a broad agrarian revolutionary movement, to get organized,take he path to struggle,unite with other struggling sections of people in general and wi th the peasantry in particular.
A prominent feature of he campaign was the is initiative enjoyed by the lower units.The State Committee of the Lok Morcha brought out a general poster and leaflet .De-centralisation of he Campaign encouraged the masses to participate .New speakers arose in places. The specific form and duration of the campaign, areas and section to be covered, location of main gatherings, preparation of publication material wee planned and discussed by lower units.
The Campaign was hugely successful culminating in various areas .Conferences were held in Anandpur Sahib, Ludhiana,Khanna,Bhutal Kalan, Jaitu, Bhatinda,Malout, Jalandhar,Fategarh Churian, Etc.45 thousands of peole o 05 hundresd of peole participated in these onferences.Ovrall 18-20000 people participated in such conferences.
In Malout the masses brilliantly thwarted the efforts of the Punjab chief minister's son to sabotage their campaign,who tried to stage manage his own version to disrupt the Morcha programme.A succeful conference was held here.
In Khudian the landlords attacked the village labourers.An Akali leader even slapped an agricultural worker.In Bhatinda and Bhutal Kalan ruling class elements were succesfuly rebuffed.A successful conference was held in Bhutal Kalan where a corrupt leader tried to disrupt the work.
The campaign led to making further inroads into sections like the industrial city workers and rural poor,.It had a strong effect on the Bhatinda city.Youth and college students prominently participated in many places.In Lehra Gaga Sunam,peasants and labourers were strirred in 30 vilages.
In areas where agricultural labour organisations existed,casteist trends were combated to help build agricultural labourers organization.
1999 election Campaign by the Lok Morcha
A separate poster and leaflet was brought out by the party Organisation(C.P.R.C.I-M.L) to educate it's ranks and a separate poster and leaflet was printed by The Lok Morcha and the P.K.M.U.The campaign was a great success..It was important that people would easily understand the contents of the leaflet.In the campaign the burning issues of the people were raised .The issue of confiscation of land from landlords,canceling of foreign debt, confiscating imperialist capital,projecting a alternative programme were rasied.A special issue on elections was brought out by Surkh Rekha.
More than 150 villages were covered in the election propoganda.The leaflets were jointly issued by the Lok Morcha and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.The revolutionary democratic front of electricity workers joined the campaign at some places.The Moulder and steel workers union ,too carried out a campaign but they did not join the Lok Morcha.This was because the workers of the union did not have enough political consciousness.There level of political content did not match that of the Lok Morcha. This was an important decision as otherwise the campaign would have had a superficial effect.This was a good example of correct revolutionary practice.
The groups who tried to impose boycott of elections on the people as well as those who paricipated in them made a very superficialimpact.The boycott slogan was meaningless as people hadn't reached that level of political consciousness.However the response to the campaign of the and the Lok Morcha was tremendous.The content of the leaflet encouraged the party ranks and followers to distribute it wide for mass consumption. The wide ranges of issues were explained in simple language. The immediate practical alternative was projected in the leaflet so that people could easily grasp it's contents.
The focus of the state committeesposter was on building the revolutionary movement ,with the agrarian movement as it's axis, as an alternative to parliamentary path. Below are some examples of the people's response.
In one mass gathering after the leader of the Morcha spoke some persons came to the stage. They said to the Morcha leader "Brother, all your points are worth lakhs of rupees, they are worth safeguarding by encasing in a box. But show us the door to which we have to bow our heads."
In Ropar district the villagers gheraoed the Morcha activists mistaking them for politicians.But when the people heard the politics of the Morcha they said "What you have written tells the truth.It is 100%correct.
In Bhatinda the contingent of agricultural workers and peasants confronted the parliamentary candidate of the Akali Dal under the leadership of the Morcha
In some places people asked activists of the Morcha to stand for elections.However this reflected the low consciousness of the people.
In Muktsar district there was an incident where a poor women peasant showed her bravery by confidently sitting near the Akali women leader,a relative of the Badal family;who was sitting on the cot of a landless labour family..She refused to move when she was asked too by the police replying "If we people cannot sit besides you, then how are we equal to you as you claim and are you entitled to our votes?"
Similarly, in Ludhiana a women Akali candidate embraced a landless woman labourer.The labourer resisted the politician saying "How are we equal to each other?"
The reason for the success of the programme was the methods adopted by the Lok Morcha.Various conferences were held to educate the people. Effective planning was done and discussions were held among the people.The people were shown the relation of their problems with the campaign. Education was given to activists how to carry out the campaign.A single state level gathering was not called out Instead campaigns took place in various districts and villages of the state. Special attention was given to consciousness based mobilisation.The propoganda among masses and the propoganda amongst advanced layers of mass organisations was differentiated..
The Lok Morcha also organized solidarity pogrammes after the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre of Dalits in Bihar in December 1997..Various town and village level programmes were staged in solidarity against repression.In Ludhiana a programme was organized with the Mould and Steel Workers Union..A rally and balckflag demonstration was led at Bachitar Nagar and a meeting was held in Guru Nanak Nagar.
Similar programmes were held in Khanna-Gobindgarh,Banga-Nawanshahar,Faridkot,(gate meeting,along with P.K.MU at the spinning mill at Sedhwa attended by 1500 migrant labourers and a cultural progarmme held at Bhana village)Jaito Bhagta,Ugi,Malsian(jointly with the help of P.K.M.U),Malri, Phagwara and Fategarh Chudianh.A rally was also held in Khanna town and in Diwala villagea large cultural programe was launched.
Analysis of he Lok Morcha
The main feature of the Lok Morcha is the democratic form of functioning and it's ability to reach out to all sections. It has launched democratic Rights struggles and set up a strong launching pad for an agrarian revolutionary movement.It resembles the type of democratic Revolutionary Front countries have had in the phase in which they have prepared for and carried out armed struggle.It has developed a unique style of functioning which relates to the broad masses of Punjab. Statewide protests and agitations have been led in which thousands of people have been educated about revolutionary politics.
Above all people can relate to such an organization. Eg.Phillipines and China. It is the most progressive organization I India today and it's formation has the greatest historic value. The Lok Morcha has been an excellent forum to give solidarity to and sharpen the anti-feudal revolutionary peasant struggles. They have also developed a suitable language form which is easily readable to the broad masses and the style of writing in their literature relates concretely to the broad masses enabling them to relate the material to their day to day struggles.
The struggle of Agricultural labourers has been significantly sharpened because of the work of the Lok Morcha.Recently just some month ago The Lok Morcha ,Punjab led a great peasant's struggle against the setting up of a factory by an Industrialist in Ludhian.After starting construction on the land the industrialist had to withdraw after a protracted peasant struggle
Quoting the views of a reader of the revolutionary Movement
"As regards Lok Morcha of Punjab,the activities of Lok Morcha have drawn our attention ,unlike all parliamentary organizations. Lok Morcha is performing a herculean task in shaping the people's mind in respect of India's so-called democracy and the character of Parliament. I think ,the lesson of Lok Morcha should be followed. A wind of change, I hope, must be turned into a gust of wind which will wipe out he revisionist and reactionary class root and branch."
Quoting a revolutionary worker activist from Mumbai who attended the 1998 election campaign:
"The most revolutionary democratic functioning I have ever seen alter having observed revolutionary organizations for a decade."
Notes of Struggles compiled from Mukti Marg, state organ of the Punjab Lok Morcha and journal 'Surkh Rekha.'
2.Bharatiya Kisan Union(Ekta-Ugraon).
Genesis of formation
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Unity) has a long history of leading secular anti-Imperialist peasant struggles. It has been a major base to launch an agrarian revolutionary movement. In Punjab in the green revolution period it was propagated that agriculture was revolutionized as new machinery was imported and loans were awarded to farmers. However only rich farmers benefited from the mechanization and loans. In Punjab today there is an economic crisis as a result of the new economic policy that attacked the peasantry like a sword piercing through a belly of a person. This resulted in numerous suicides. To the landed peasantry the most significant issues were pertaining to the exploitation of the peasantry in terms of adverse trade between agricultural inputs and commodities.
The capital and property of the Imperialist as well as the Compradors was responsible for this. Land rent and Usury was also a major issue for the landed peasantry. For the Landless peasantry the major issue was that of bringing feudal exploitation and bonded labour to an end.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta(Unity) had its foundation in the struggle against the Bharatiya Kisan Union led by Lakhowal in regard to their collaborating with the Khalistani communal politics. The B.K.U. (Unity) prevented any political party imposing it's politics on the mass organisation.It always maintained a secular character and stressed on a democratic method of functioning. Originally, the Bharatiya Kisan Union was founded in 1984.In 1995 the B.K.U. Ekta was formed.
The demarcating features of the Union are it's democratic style of Functioning in contrast to the ruling class autocratic style of Functioning.There was a 2line Struggle within the Bharatiya Kisan UnionEkta(Unity) for carrying out the revolutionary mass line.The Union was a general democratic fighting organization of the middle and landed peasantry and thus it could not be converted into a revolutionary Peasant Association to become a front organization of the revolutionary Party.
The Union could only be a launching pad or a base to create such an organization. There were strong tendencies of revolutionary groups working within the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta of imposing the Party Politics on the mass Organisations.They Introduced Maoist politics not compatible with the Consciousness of the masses. True the Proletarian Politics has to be introduced within a mass organization without which a proletarian revolutionary movement cannot be created but only when the masses have been imbibed with the necessary Political Consciousness. In this light in 1998 A revolutionary Group violated the revolutionary Norms by giving a call to the Punjab peasants to participate in an anti-W.T.O.rally in Delhi.
The correct trend within the B.K.U emphasized the need for a revolutionary Democratic movement but made continuous efforts to only raise slogans in accordance to the Consciousness of the members of the Union.The Mass organization is not a platform to propagate party politics .In a Revolutionary Movement it is very Important that the politics of the revolutionary Party and the Mass Organisation is not confused. What the revolutionary Groups did who followed wrong trends was to impose the party politics on the mass Organisation.Comrade Mao in the Course of the Chinese Armed Revolutionary Struggle Emphasized how the Communist Youth League should not be confused with the Chinese Communist Party.
Through sharpening the day to day revolutionary Class Struggles the masses have to be educated in Revolutionary Politics. The need for instilling the correct revolutionary level of Consciousness before introducing the higher level revolutionary Party Politics is the Equivalent of giving Anesthesia to a patient before a heart operation. In 1990 the B.K.U Ekta launched a 50,000 strong blockade of the Punjab governor. With other peasant organizations like the Kirti Kisan Union Punjab it demanded remunerative prices of wheat, bonus on the low paddy prices, opposed increase in bus fares, opposed increase in electricity charges, called for repeal of black laws.
In a major gathering in Patiala, it was explained that as a result of the G.A.T.T.,W.T.O, and the New Economic Policies, that the subsidies on inputs were withdrawn, prices of inputs increased and prices of crops increased. On March 2nd 1995 a major state level protest took place in Chandigarh where peasants swarmed like bees in a nest, arriving in trucks. The Police blocked their trucks, arrest several peasants but staging heroic retaliation the peasants resisted fighting to the last tooth.
In recent years at Jethuke village in Bhatinda district the Union launched one of the most daring protests in the history of Punjab. Jethuke had been a strong center of the peasant movement, being a center of agitation against the Princely States as well as the movement of surrendering crop shares to the landlords. In the 2nd World war the Jethuke villagers opposed conscription in the Army.
In 1999 there was a major protest against bus fares of private bus operators and their illegal action.4 villages joined the agitation. The Villagers first surrounded the private buses. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate ( S.D.M.) now conceded to the villagers. The operators were now forced to deposit Rs.1000, per day to the S.D.M.The bus operators were now compelled to show the people the basic rates. However the operators didn't implement this getting the district transport officer transferred.
The authorities had always resented the B.K.U agitations. Previously the Union had agitated to get electricity transformers replaced. Secondly they agitated forcing the authorities to purchase the peasant's paddy. The 3rd agitation was surrounding a land mortgage bank. The peasants had been unable to repay the loans as a result of Crop Failure.
As a form of protest the villagers boycotted the buses and decided to start a trolley service After this was carried out the police arrested the trolley and took the occupants to the police station. In Protest the villagers surrounded the police station but later demonstrated in the town blocking the buses, and later occupied the railway tracks. However the authorities disagreed to show the basic rates and calculate the fares accordingly. The Union activists started blocking the roads. The police resorted to lathi charge. Showing great intensity and death defying courage the people resisted the might of the police. Groups of people formed self-defence barricades.
Contingents of people were formed consisting of 10 to 50 people. During that time giving no due respect to the law. The police assassinated 2 landless peasants in cold blood Gurmeet Singh and Daspal Singh were picked up on their way home and shot dead in their houses. The police arrested the father of Daspal Singh and beat him They forced him to put his thumbprint on black pages. A Communist Party of India M.P. had found live cartridges in the house of the victims which was proof that the firing had not taken place during the blockade.
The police prevented villagers from attending the cremation ceremony. A religious commemoration ceremony was to be held for the 2 martyred peasants. The revolutionary activists of the Lok Morcha and the Punjab Agricultural workers Union organized secret meetings persuading villagers to attend the commemoration .On the day of the commemoration conference the police blockaded the place heavily. At various checkposts they deployed their forces.
The people valiantly resisted like a flame burning in their hearts. They raised slogans like "Martyrs, We will defend your thought, Bombs, Guns cannot defend ordinary people, Don't look to the government, Organise your own self –defence. Speakers demanded judicial Inquiry into the killing of the peasants, Payment of Rs 5 Lakhs to the victim's families. Thousands of people thronged in protest like a streams branching into a river. Showing indomitable courage the peasants had reached the venue of the Commemoration ceremony. The peasants simply rose up like a tornado against the iron forces of oppression.
During the mobilization campaign to defeat the authorities it was propogated bythe correct trend within the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta to
1.Make the biggest possible Groups of men and women in each village to lead the mobilization campaign.
2.To Continuously analyse the problems affecting the mass participation in the Campaign.
3.Expose that the police have their weaknesses although they seem menacing and to encourage masses to capitalize in the Chinks in the armour of the Police.It was explained that the Police also had defensive tendencies which was a feather in the cap for the revolutionary masses to display revolutionary Agression.
4.Project Every Advance in the Movement in other villages of the areas in other areas of B.K.U.Ekta influence.
5 Propogate the ironic determination of the leaders of the B.K.U. especially the jailed leaders.
6.To explain the need to organize and Struggle and the relationship of the State with the people.It was explained that the masses had to combat the armed might of the stage's armed Forces with most militant confrontation.
7.To link this struggle with imminent peasant Struggle against the debt trap area.
Demonstrations were carried in many places around the State apart from Bhatinda District where the firing Occurred.In Bhatinda Jail the arrested B.K.U. leaders in the jail premises condemned the firing addressing 80 prisoners.
Few days after the firing2 trends emerged in the method of forming an action committee to lead the anti-repression Struggle. The wrong trend within the B.K.U Ekta decided to form an action committee too lead the Struggle.This committee included the revisionist C.PI.,C.P.I.M.Tohra Akali Dal, Revisionist C.P.I.M.L.LiberationEtc.The propagandists of the correct mass revolutionary trend within the B.K.U.Ekta opposed this. They stated that an Action Committee should only give solidarity and assist the Struggle and not lead it and the B.K.U Ekta could lead the Struggle in their view.
They also endorsed the view that the Action Committee should also comprise of only pro-people and revolutionary Mass Organisations.Revisionists and Ruling Class elements should be debarred from participating.
The Police on February 23rd built up a fortified network to combat the wrath a of the revolutionary masses.Checkposts were set up to thwart the masses from coming to the rally.The masses prepared to give bulwark resistance. Supporters of the Correct trend in the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta on February 29th organized a huge rally comprising of 12 detachments.Each department as led by competent revolutionary leaders.They successfully combated 4 police barriers which attempted to block the militant detachments of the Peasantry.
The Streets of Rampura appeared like a Red Fire burning over them. There could be no more appropriate way of describing the fury of the masses.The Scene that day was reminiscent of an impregnable fort of an Emperor being broken down.
This struggle resembled a tornado.It was one of the most significant struggles statewide representing the mass line approach. The manner the 12 detachments of the peasantry armed with traditional weapons, thwarted the police posts who attempted to prevent the peasants from holding the conference displayed the ability of the broad masses to carry out mass revolutionary resistance. The manner in which the broad masses combated the repression, win certain repression –based demands and achieved original struggle aims, displayed the mass line approach.
This struggle was followed by the struggle for ensuring paddy procurement. This was a statewide peasant upsurge over the refusal of the govt. agencies to procure paddy. The mass line trend concentrated on certain pockets, where there was an adequate base, to set up examples of struggle that would reach out to wider sections of peasants. Militant mass actions were launched by the peasants who blocked railway tracks this inspired peasants over much wider areas.
Another major issue launched by the Union was against the Commission agent's Usury. Several peasant suicides took place in Punjab. The agents compelled peasants to take huge loans for purchasing tractors. To pay back loans peasants had to sell their lands for which they had to pay huge sums to moneylenders. Unable to clear their debts the peasants would commit suicide. A Classic example was that of Mithhoo Singh who had taken a loan of Rs 80,000 and commited suicide when he was unable to pay it. Mithoo Singh had been cheated by the nefarious activities of Agent Ashok Kumar who projected his innocence .
The peasants compelled the authorites to check his account books which showed how he had cheated Mithoo Singh. It was decided that a gathering of peasants would take place in a particular village to consolidate forces. Peasants pitched tents and also staged a community Kitchen. At a particular Village a huge gathering took place. Subsequently village level rallies were held all over, the state. At Jethuke the villagers were lathi-charged and they encircled the police station in protest. Only after the police assured the villagers that they would release the peasant activists did they let the police party disperse.
A call was given by the Union to stage a protest meeting on a police attack on a peasant meeting at a particular venue.
On July 22nd a self –defence barricade was formed to combat the offensive of the police. The villagers barricaded the outer openings of several village streets by overturning the trolleys. The Police raided villages. Upto 600 peasants were encircled and stopped from entering the venue. The Union leaders persuade the villagers to counter the police encirclement and strive to reach the venue. Now a major clash took place 22 houses were entered and villagers dragged out.118 peasants were arrested.
On August 1st the Union called for a protest against the Police attack.4,000 peasants tried to reach the venue but 3,000 succeeded in coming near the venue. In Bhatinda a rally was organized and traffic was jammed for hours in retaliation.
On August 14th 2 protest marches were launched where 70 vehicles carrying about 1700 to 2000 peasants toured several villages. Villagers greeted the marchers. A revolutionary voice echoed in the hearts of all the local villagers. Similarly a massive protest took place at Chandigarh. The Speakers explained the causes of debt and it's relation to the New Economic Policy and the globalization policies.
One mot-heartening incident was that of a peasant in the village of who was compelled to sell a piece of land to the moneylender commission agent. The peasant now refused to pay the rent as well as hand over the land to the commission agent. The Commissioning agent retaliated entering the village at night along with a harvester combine 2 tractors and a gang of gun wielding hired goons. Peasants heroically counter attacked with sticks and traditional weapons. Observing the outrage of the villagers the police registered a case against the Commission agent.
2 other Struggles deserving recognition with regards to the other cause. In Manse ,a commission Agent from Manse forcibly took away a tractor, a buffalo, and a trolley of wheat from the house of peasant Kuldip Singh of Jatana Village in Mansa.After being abused and humiliated the peasant commited suicide .No political party condemned this,including the Leftist Parties..
The B.K.U Ekta enquired about the case and took the village people to the police Station to register a police case against the Commission who robbed the poor peasant of his just livelihood.The Concerned officer refused to co-operate.The B.K.U.Ekta launched a campaign at the district level and held a demonstration and a rally at the district headquarters. This had no effect. Now the Union held a joint rally with other district Units of the Union. After a 3 month protracted Struggle the commission agents were forced to pay back Rs 65,000 that still stood in the name of Kuldip Singh and pay Rs 90,000 to the Aggrieved Family. The Interest the last struggle drew was unprecedented It had spontaneous response. In Mansa block, people responding to the campaign came with trolleys full of peasants from atleast11 villages. In Bhatinda 400 Peasants participated.
In Village Chak Ali Sher Paramjit had commited suicide.Paramjit's father had taken a loan from a commission agent of Budhlada which was repaid by him 9 years ago,by selling some land and other household belongings.The commission advantage taking advantage of the uneducated strata of the peasant made him fill up a pro-note for the same loan. For 7 long years the Commission mention did not open his mouth on the subject and out of the woods ,suddenly, through the link of having powerful connections with ruling Circles got attachment orders from the Court in procuring 4 and a half acres of land from Paramjit.The B.K.U.Ekta prohibited this through a mass protest .
On the night of Paramjit's Suicide state level leaders of the Union went with the villagers to the police Station and filed a complaint. In the morning 3 trolleys full of men and women accompanied Paramjit's body to Buddleia where his post mortem took place The Funeral Ceremony of Paramjit was converted into a rally where 800 people were mobilized.
One last Significant Struggle led by the Union was that against the Electricity Officials in June 1999 in Walianwali village in Bhatinda District. The villagers had to stay without Electricity for weeks as a result of a storm disrupting the Communications System. Even when it was restored it was quite insufficient. A burnt transformer supplying Electricity to the fields was not replaced This resulted in the paddy planting remaining blocked .The peasants paid up to Rss.1000 to get it replaced but the officials failed to co-operate.The peasants approached the Bharatiya Kisan UnionEkta.
A village gathering was held. It was decided to struggle for Justice. On June 24th a delegation met the district officer demanding regular and full supply or electricity in villages, apart from replacement of the transformer. The District officer arrogantly gave a negative reply stating that he would not be able to replace the transformer.
The Union leaders told the officer that if they did not get Electricity in 4 days they would come again. After 4 days the Sub-division department remained unmoved. After the 4th day the Union mobilizing 200 men and women reached the Sub Divisional Officer's office and surrounded him for half an hour raising slogans of their just demands. The remarkable aspect of this struggle was that it was led by the village level leadership of the Union, as the state and district level office bearers were engaged in some important work. Later the district president called a meeting of the leading teams. Here a concrete evaluation was made of the situation.
The position of the authorities and the need and preparedness of the masses was assessed. A demand charter was prepared. A protracted Struggle continued with continuous sit in demonstrations. At 9 p.m.the Sub divisional officer complied with the wishes of the peasants stating that now regular electricity would be supplied and the transformer had reached the Village of Walian Wali.However the peasants relentlessly stayed in their place. The District president told the S.D.O. that they would not flinch till all their demands were met. Slogan shouting thundered the walls of the S.D.O'S office.
The next day more people arrived but the main Executive Officer concerned with the transformer and regular Electricity had gone to the City after earlier in the day promising to address the peasants. The Engineer sent a message that he would return but the leaders refused to meet him unless the sub divisional officer came to the gathering and gave a suitable reason for the irresponsible behaviour of the Engineer. Under the District President's initiative 3 points were asked to the Engineer.
The first one was why the replacement of the transformer took more than 24 hours after official reporting. The second one was the declaration of the Sub divisional officer that taking bribes was obligatory. Cases were narrated of bribes had been extorted from certain peasants. The Engineer promised action in all these cases. The Engineer gave assurance that all the peasants' demands would be fulfilled.
On the 3rd day of the Struggle the number of demonstrators decreased as there problems had been solved The Leaders were now confronted with a major problem. The S.D.O had disappeared but the Union leaders continued to gherao(Surround and block)lower level officials like the Junior Engineer.
This forced the S.D.O. and the Engineer to reappear. Now the Superintendent of Police arrived at the Scene threatening to disperse the agitators. However the Superintendent saw the steel like determination of the protestors gheraoing the Junior Engineer. He said to the District Union President "You will all be placed under Arrest" A huge tussle now broke out between the police forces and the peasantry.The police tried to seize Union flags and loudspeakers.
In retaliation the peasants resisted. Heroically the peasants resisted the police force like a dam blocking the strong currents of a river flooding. Peasants were arrested but spontaneously Union leaders rushed to workers in nearby villages informing the people to arrive in numbers on the scene. Then the S.D.M arrived on the scene. He promised the peasants their demands and phoned up t6he concerned authorities to supply the required transformers and he would grant the Union leaders the right to represent the peasants.
He also acknowledged the Union leaders role in fighting for justice for the peasantry.The militant mood of the peasantry and the immensely competent leadership had persuaded the S.D.M in settling the Issue. The huge Struggle waged by 500 peasants who were not only able to face the police brutality but also heroically combat it was the trump card. The day after the S.D.M.'S Assurance a transformer was installed in Gil Kalan village. After a few days the Junior Engineer and the Sib divisional Officer were standing with folded hands before the people of the Village Walianwalireturning Rs 1000 taken as bribe.
The Engineer also came to apologies. Quoting revolutionary journal 'the Comrade' The significance of such struggles testified that local leaderships had the full potential for further developing peasant Activists and local leading teams from among the mobilized mass of peasants. Such militant and victorious Struggles can develop local pockets of peasant Struggles, having great scope in drawing the lower fighting sections of the peasantry.The leadership of the Peasants continuously projected the class angle of the demands and Struggle.They also have great potential in attracting the lower fighting sections of the peasantry, and ,thus, laying the foundations for building new centers of peasant force."
The Iron will displayed by the peasantry in not bowing to the authorities and their rushing to the site of Confrontation instead of being intimidated is a fitting answer to those who doubted the revolutionary potential of the peasants. Their class hated was sharpened reminiscent of a red flame being lit. Such Struggles are the breeding ground for further revolutionary Struggles .The Achievements of the Struggle guided the peasantry to the road of struggle and organization.
This depicts that this is not a stage when a mass armed peasant movement is being carried out which could facilitate conditions of a guerilla war. Even mass struggles of peasants have not been developed in several areas. However this struggle set the breeding ground for building peasant struggles which would later have to be consolidated into an armed peasant struggle.It is similar to what the Chinese Communist Party led by Comrade Mao did in the early 1920's-creating a base for peasant struggles I various regions The significance of the struggle policy of the B.K.U Ekta was the struggles they launched on issues where imperialism affects the people.
The best examples apart from the struggles already described were the peasant struggles that were led against winding up the procurement and rationing system. Another significant struggle was that of ensuring paddy procurement. Train traffic was blocked at various places. In Bhatinda district a major blockade took place. After militant mass actions the state ultimately conceded to the peasants demands. However the most significant political factor was that of the correct revolutionary trend within the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta This trend carefully demarcated between mass organization and Party Politics and resolutely fought against wrong policies of other groups to impose the party policies on the mass organization. The predominant role in mass revolutionary struggles of the Union was played by those following the correct trend.
In Punjab there was another famous peasant struggle of the landed section in May 2004during the election time. This was launched by the Joint Peasant platform( J.P.P..),in Punjab The J.P.P. came about by a period of joint activities between the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta –Ugrahan),which had its roots in the B.K.U(Ekta),through a process of re-alignment against the opportunist dominant leadership of the organisation.The second constituent of the J.P.P the Kisan Sang harsh Committee ,was a militant organization based mainly in the border district of Amritsar.The J.P.P rejected the stand taken by opportunist peasant organizations trailing ruling-class parliamentary politics. The leaders of such organizations project themselves as champions of the peasantry and hoodwink the peasntry.The J.P.P differentiated from peasant organizations that claimed that the election period was the wrong time to mobilize peasant struggle .as it is the fever of election period. and the peoples attention is focused on the elections.
The J.P.P made an analytical assessment of the political situation and concluded that the Congress govt.of Amrinder Singh aims to champion the New Economic policy to be blessed by the World Bank. Although repressive on the common people's struggles the Akali opposition wishes to catch every weakness of the ruling Congress and expose them.
Patiala was the struggle center of the J.P.P campaign. This city housed the Punjab State Electricity board. In the first round campaign the road was occupied for 8 days by 3000 peasants This road, the mall, links the railway station, the bus stand, the state head office of the P.S E Bathe civil courts, the district and divisional offices of almost all the departments as well as a medical college and hospital. The mall looked like a battle camp of peasant fighters with scenes of numerous make-shift kitchens and dozens of vehicles decorated with flags and banners parked here and there. and a big conference tent.
From February 23rd thee was a militant demonstration everyday. The head office of the P.S.E.B was surrounded and blocked, the bus stand blockaded, the railway station blockaded for four hours on one day, and eight hours on the other. On February 26th solidarity was shown by the Electricity technical workers.The electricity workers had just had a huge state-wide protest against privatization of the P.S E.B.The Punjab Students Union(Shaheed Randhawa Group) also gave token solidarity as well as the Punjab Khet Mazdur Union and the Milkmen's Union. A huge rally in solidarity comprising all these sections took place in front of the head office of the P.S.E.B.They all expressed their struggling unity with the peasants.
Seeing the rage within the people the government had to address the grievances and praised the masses that they would negotiate. When the head office was surrounded on 23rd February the secretary of the P.S.E.B met the peasant leadership and proposed an immediate meeting with the chairman of the P.S.E.B.
on Feb. 26thafter the long march of solidarity up to he P.S E.B head office the govt again agreed to negotiate. However, the peasant leaders, did not go to meet the ministers until the conclusion of the March. At the end of the March, the peasant leaders declared that they expected no positive outcome from the negotiations. They were proved correct. On February 29th a railroko was staged,for 4 hours on one day and eight hours on the other. The Chief Minister was so hard –pressed that he promised the following within 10 days.
a. Attachment and arrests of properties of debt defaulter peasants would be banned.
b.Payment of Sugarcane arrears to the peasants by the sugar mills would be made time bound.
C.Withdraw all court cases registered against a large number of peasant leaders and activists during various past struggles.
d.The Arrears of bills of electric tube wells would be settled once for all.
To expand and intensify the struggle a campaign was called to block the traffic at many places for 4 hours on March 24th.A leaflet was distributed and posters pasted in which all important demands were projected. A new series of mass meetings ,rallies, and marches stepped up the campaign in widespread areas of the state. The Struggle action was major success and the ruling ministers were hard-pressed. An Irrigation minister said "We wanted to give free electricity to the peasants but the World Bank does not allow us to do so. 'Rail Traffic had been blocked for 4 hours. And the event was reported on the front page of the newspaper.
On March 29th a call was given to block rail traffic in Amritsar district The Wheat crop I this district was late in ripening for harvesting.Thus,the peasants of this region,would not be engaged in harvesting and marketing their crops in the first half of April. About 3500 peasants(including women) started a sit-in in the rail tracks on a small station Manawala,a little away from Amritsar.The Chief minister deployed a police contingent to clear the rail line.The deputy Commissioner of police started talking with the peasant leadership, but simultaneously deploying greater police force against the peasant barricade. The administration had just pretended to negotiate to divert the vigilant peasants on guard.
Now Hundreds of policeman attacked the gathering from 2 sides. The peasant fighters ,quickly organized themselves in defence columns ,threw stones on the railway track and seized the lathis from the police. A war of Attrition too place and ultimately the police were forced to flee Several policemen were injured. A young peasant Angrej Singh was martyred. The following day, after concluding the 24 hour blockade ,the gathering marched to the village the martyr Angrej Singh in Bakipur.Thousands of people attended the cremation and a fire was virtually lit in all their hearts.
The Chief minister justified the police attack and accused the peasant leadership of backing out of the agreement made in Patiala.However he was shaken by the militancy. On the other hand the parliamentary opposition utilized this to win the affection of the masses and presented Rs one lakh to the family of the martyred peasant Angrej Singh.The present chief minter now offered 2 lakhs compensation to the family of the peasant martyr to rival the opposition and began to negotiate with the B.K.U(E) and the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti separately,so he could wedge a gap between the 2 organisations.He also stated that he would withdraw cases against activists .The mother of martyr Angrej Singh and the K.S.C rejected the offer of a separate negotiation.
Now the peasant organization gave a call for burning the effigies of the govt.on April4th,5th and 6th.They planned to commemorate the martyrs on7t April.
More than 5000 people participated in the ceremony.The administration attempted to thwart the big gathering by creating an atmosphere of terror in Gurdaspur and Amritsar.The peasants were commanded by the leadership to thwart the police checkposts which were set up on all routes to the ceremony.
In the conference the ruling class opposition parties who addressed the gathering were disallowed from using the platform to promote their vested political interests. The J.P.P was very particular that this platform should not be utilized for the projection of the politics and identity of any political party.
On April 29th a march was planned from the railway station of Manawala carrying the last remains of the peasant martyr.
On April 24th a Congress leader of Moga district sent a group of henchmen with a police party to a village, Macchike.They began to move the black flag from the peasant's houses. The peasants resisted this and the henchmen and the police officer had to retreat. On the same day peasants of this area 50 or 60 musclemen of the Congress attacked a delegation of peasants who had planned a march of about 150 peasants riding 5 or 6 tractor trolleys. and intended to confront the Congress Candidate.
From the constituency with questions.The arms of the district president of the B.K.U(E) were fractured and 11 others injured.
The peasants were infuriated and next day blocked road traffic for 2 hours in 5 districts. Huge demonstrations were organized in Amritsar and Mansa Districts.
After a sustained campaign the govt agreed to
a. withdraw all false cases against registered peasants.
b.constitute a committee to clinch the issues of the arrears of electricity bills.
c.Payment of Rs.14 crore the same month as installment of arrears of Sugarcane payment to the concerned peasants.
d.Rs.50,000 to each of the 6 peasants injure seriously in the Manawala episode and Rs.25,00 to each of the 13 peasants injured in the attack.
E.Compensation of Rs.5 lakh to the family of martyr Angrej Singh
f.An extra amount of Rs 2.45 lakh to clear the debts of the family of Angrej Singh.
G.A permanent job in the office of Tehsildar to the widow of the martyr.
The 10 week campaign showed not only the fighting capacity, but the correctness of the struggle line and stand of the peasant leadership. They were successful to a considerable extent in convincing the peasants of the need for waging protracted sruggles.The force made such a prominent impact that all kinds of political forces had to take note of it and to respond to it in some form or the other.
A little after that after having been badly exposed Chief Minister Mariner Singh created a major political stunt to pose as a champion of the peasantry. He called a special session of the state assembly scrapping all agreements of sharing river waters with neighbouring states, and created a diversionary feeling towards other states ,blaming them for the water crisis. The J.P.P exposed this by calling a Lalkaar rally on September 13th in Chandigarh to expose Amarinder Singh's diversionary tactics. The rally was preceded by an intense fortnight of mobilization campaign, including state-level and area-level meetings.
The Chandigarh rally was the biggest ever since 1990.A 14 point charter of demands was placed.The B.K.U(E) later led a great statewide peasant movement against the auctioning of peasant's land in Chathewala village,Bathinda district. Despite mobilizing police from 7 districts, the govt was not able to block 5000 peasants from entering Chatewala.The peasants sealed the village from the police.From October 28th the State govt began a massive state-wide raid and arrested dozens of peasant activists, in the false pretext of maintaining law and order. Hundreds were arrested and 3major police attacks launched. The peasants wrote a glorious chapter in revolutionary history by organizing anti-repression struggle and mass resistance to arrests. What was significant was that thee was unprecedented participation of women.
Quoting a revolutionary Journal, the Comrade," This 10 week campaign demonstrated not only there fighting capacity ,but the correctness of line and stand of the peasant leadership regarding countering the political offensive of the ruling class Election campaign and struggle of the peasants on vital isues.The peasant leadership explained the broad masses the futility of having expectations from the government and the need to defend their own interests and rights. By making the struggle component a major part of the campaign, they set up a road for the peasants to defend their rights. Due to integration of the struggle component with the political campaign, the peasant leadership had been successful in sending the message not only directly to the peasants but also to widespread sections of the people.'
"The campaign was to a considerable extent able to to explain a major section of the peasntry the fact that a militant and protracted struggle was required for fulfillment of important demands.Therefore any advance in the organized fighting strength and democratic consciousness of the peasants as a result of a particular struggle is more significant than the fulfillment of this or that political demand in that struggle.This experience has shown,that the development of the democratic mass movement reflecting the revolutionary orientation is the most vital factor for creating a base for unity among the broad masses of the people and among the advanced layers of he struggling masses."
Other Struggles of the B.K.U(Ekta)
In September 2003 a dharna of one thousand peasants was held in Chandigarh against the Punjab State Electricity Boards privatization.Hundreds of Electricity workers joined the peasants.The privatization policy would result in soaring prices for electricity.(Technical Services Union joined the rally)
On February 22029th,2004 the B.KU(Ekta)and the K.S.C launchedan 8 day campaign in Patial,the headquarters of the Punjab Electricity Board.The had office was gheraoed and 2 days later 2000 workers joined he protest under the leadership of the technical Services Union.
On March 15th 2005,35 groups came together mobilizing tens of thousands of people in Chandigarh,in opostion to privatization of the Punjab State Electricity board.The majority of members came from the B.KU(Ekta)and the Technical Services Union.It was one of the graetset ever assembly opf arevolutionay contingent in Punjab .The participants revealed graet discipline and political consciousness.
On December 2nd 2005 similarly ajoint peasant front of the B.KU0Ekta),K.S.C,and Punjab Kisan Sabha(Taggar),and the Joint Struggle Co-ordination Committee of he Electricity workers held the city of Patiala to ransom.Again it was the T.SU and the B.K.U Ekta forces that comprised 90%of he gathering.
In June 2005 in the eleagte Conference of the B.K.U(Ekta),the organization was consolidated further.Graet efforts were made to connect with the por and landless peasants.Infact co-operation was stepped up with the P.M.K.U.Ifact it was the P.M.KU that gave solidaity to the Jethuke
In May 2005 the Punjab govt. acquired 376 acres of land belonging to 125 familie sofr 3 villages(Sanghera,Dhoula and Channa) Of Sangrur district. The land was given to the Trident Group of industries. A Sugar factory, a paper mill and a distillery was proposed., involving a total investment of Rs 2000 crore.The Trident group had usurped he land to earn super profits.It already had 2 plots of land adjacent .These plots occupied more than enough land required for he proposed industrial expansion.The Trident had set up a spinning mill in Bhatinda on cheaply acquired land, after some time they declared the mill sick and swallowed a large amount of govt funds for the rehabilitation of sick industry.
Finally the wound up the mill and earned a super profit by selling the land. The workers waged a protracted struggle against his action .No official notification was given to the official bodies and no N.O C was taken from the related deputy commissioner and land acquisition collector, nor shown to the affected peasants. Infact, the documents were secretly prepared in the office of the related land revenue officer.They attempted to safeguard any information of their policy to the peasantry even a day before he finalization of he legal procedure.In the end the licensed fire-arms of the villagers were seized by he police and pol ice forces were deployed in 5 districts, to forcibly seize the land. Peasants trying to resist this were arrested on false charges.No parliamentary party defended the peasantry. Infact the Trident House had bought over many a powerful politician.
The B.K.U(Ekta) headed by Joginder Sinh came into the picture.A "Zamin Bachao march was organised I the affected villages and the surrounding area.O February 7th 2006,peasants swarmed like bees upon the affected villages. A caravan of 150 ,4 wheeler vehicles carrying thousands of agitators assembled. A common Struggle committee of affected peasantry was formed to discuss their problems and take independent decisions. The committee was given the sole responsibility of dealing with the authorities. It was decided that the B.KU(Ekta)leadership would not intervene in such negotiations.
From March 19th a historic sit-in was launched before the court complex of Barnala.Thousands of men and women assembled in tractor trollies(along with a make-shift kitchen and stores of ratins)The masses had to baer he onslaught of police forces who wee heavilty deployed.Thus at 3 entry –points of the town,indefinite sit-ins were launched ,with he demands of the agitators projected.Several agitators were detained I local police stations, the tractors, make-shift kitchens,stored rations and sound system being confiscated.The next morning 600 selectedUnion activists and leaders wee charged in false cases. The remaining ordinary agitators were released.
In protest gains the arrests,effigies we burnt in 60 places on March 20th.On March 22 nd effigies were burnt in 96 places.,56 places on March 23rd,and 86 places on March 24th.500men and women of he affected villages participated.The peasants of 2 of the villages risked oppression by going to burn the effigies on a highway road several kilometers away from their villages.
This was followed by a3day hunger strikeby the jailed peasants and by the affected families of he 3 vilages.Torchlight proessions were carried out.3000 people assembled on the last day Another campaign was launched of harvesting the crops of the jailed peasants. Tht action greatly lifted the morale of the jailed peasants.The police repulsed this action supporting The might of the Trident group.
O March 30th Sarmukh Sinh Jethuke became a martyr in jail.He fell ill and became a victim of criminal negligence. Pro-peole mass organizations organized a protest meeting .The authorities weRe now placed on he defensive.The related subdivisonal officer attended the funeral rites and offerd a Cheque of 5 lakHs on behalf of the sate to the bereaved family. All the jailed peasants were released unconditionally.
On April 14th 2006 a historic conference was held where for the first time in 30 years,all the progressive and revolutionary organizations of Punjab participated in a single conference.11 peasant organizations participated.
Some major actions were launched. On May 12 th traffic was blocked for 2 hours in all districts of Punjab.The Barnal Zamin Bachao conference was attended By more tha 25000 peasnts.This surpassed the numbers at the gathering held y the Akali Dal (Badal) on May 3rd at the same venue.Other contingents of peasants participated including those from Ludhiana district who wee struggling to block the acquisition of their lands for the expansion of an aerodrome at Badowal.Thse peasants had blocked the traffic for 2 hours on May 12 th.In Ropar peasants struggled against he acquisition of 300 acres of land for a I.T park. The peasants of Sathiala (Amritsar district) struggled against the acquisition of lands for a100 foot road leading to the headquartrs of Radhaswami religius sect)
A significant featureof the Struggle was he participation of large contingents of employees from the Electriciy sector.The Technical Services Union led by Gurdial Singh Bhangal participated in the Traffic jam of May 12th.
Struggle for the Correct trend in the B..K.U(Ekta )
This trend focused on building he struggle-activities on basic and burning peasant demands, and introducing political consciousness in the union I accordance with the level of the peasants actual activity and experience. While al the political forces were free from their independent platform to influence peasmnts politically,the experiences acquired by the peasntmasses ion struggle would be crucial to their being able to absorb any such political propaganda.In Contracts the wrong trend made the union unction as apropoganda baed organization.Through joint actions with other political platforms, they attempted to politicize the peasant masses .
The correct trend was reflected I the Jethuke struggle(A historic turning point) in January 200where the correct trend was applied to combat repression, resulting in pole firing. It also withstood and defeated the repression, and won certain repression-related demands,t o achieve the original aim s of the struggle. Thus the correct trend strived to build an alternative practice. Similarly in he mass gherao of land mortgage bank in Rampura,no arrests were made of defaulting peasants. Burning issues of the peasantry wee highlighted. Following this the struggle for paddy procurement reflected several similar features.The followers of he correct trend worked in selected pockets,where hey had asignificant base ,to set up types of struggle which wopuld influence abroader section of peasants.
The major line of demarcation between the correct and wrong trend was felt by the peasantry on the handling of the issue of peasant indebtedness to usurious commission agents.The 2001 agitation against the Sandoha suicide where asustained strugl;e was launched is an appropriate example.
The participants in the correct trend linked the political struggle with the conctre class Struggle.They implemented the militant mass struggle alternative in practice like in Jethuke, the paddy procurement struggle,the Maiserkhana struggle Etc.The burning problem of peasnt indebtedness was handled impeccably by he correct trend.A do-or-die spirit was inculcated and the ranks understood the correctness of the line.
The organizers of the correct trend were able to mobilize the maximum ranks in the inner-organisational struggle.They also did not inculcate discipline mechanically and took the consciousness of the majority of thec ranks into account.
The turning point in defeating the wrong trend was in Himmatpuraon April 28th..It comprised of 250 leading activists from 10 districts.In the first session all the deeds and propaganda of the ruling clases was exposed.I the 2nd session, a teacher described the role and record pf the leadership of the correct trend. This teacher concluded that the work of the Union inspired him to leave the job full –time and work for the Union.In the 3rd session, anyone could speak from the flooor.Several activist volunteered to become full time participants.
The followers of the correct trend called or a Kisan council.1950 peasant activists were invited for he Kisan council, including 2 each from 720 village units,7 each from the Unions 58 block committees,7 each fro the Union's 12 districts and 9 office bearers of the State Committee. In preparation for he council; district committee meetings ere held in all districts. In these meetings the contents of the Himmatpura meeting was explained.
There was major struggle between the State leadership and the activists of the correct trend.Earlier the Sangrur Committee had opposed the correct trend activists.The State leadership had also refused the holding of the Kisan council.The activist held the council meeting opposing the state leadership.Sukhdev Kokri was removed by the leadership. Finally after a meeting held on May 18 th by the activists of the correct trend Sukhdev Kokri was re-instated.
The Kisan Council was held on May 21st at Talwandi Sabo.Of the 1950 qualified to participate,I the Council 1359 participated. Peasant activists participated from 36 blocks,in which the correct trend prevailed.
After the Kisan Council a state conference was held at Jethuke on June 8th.Here the 2 trends were differentiated and the real issues prevailing demarcated. It was revealed how the leaders of he wrong trend were not prepared for struggles on burning issues. Infact they boycotted the struggle against Usury. The wrong trend worked overtime o block the correct trend and if elections were democratically conducted would be swept away and the correct trend would triumph.
JThe conference elected a new state committee. Joginder Singh Ugraon was appointed the state president, and Sukhdev Kokri, the secretary. A call was given for statewide demonstrations ,on various demands.
The wrong trend projected an action committee including ruling class parliamentary opposition parties.
Analysis of the B.K.U(Ekta)
It is significant that within the correct trend opinion is divided.
The struggle of the B.KU(Ekta)is a classical example of the struggle for democratic functioning within a mass organization.Today ,when there is aprominent tren withing the Communist Revolutonary camp of imposing party politics on mass organizations the correct approach of this sruggkle has enormous significance. The peasant struggles of Pumjab are also a fitting answer to he trend that claims that armed struggle cannot be deferred. Punjab is a classic example of a state where peasants have not reached the level of political consciousness to enable armed struggle to be carried out. The agrarian revolutionary movement is still in the stage of being built.The Kisan Council and he subsequent conference is of great significance.
In the author's view this reflects the mass revolutionary approach to creating abase for launching protracted peasant struggles amongst the middle and landed peasantry and avenues to sharpen and enhance the class movements of the landless peasantry.The anti-repression struggle,the successful protests and jail bharo agitation,struggle within jails,participation of women and organized mass resistance against the arrests were important features which illustrate the ground for launching a democratic revolutionary struggle.Before launching armed struggles or during them as in China,there have been mass movements for democratic rights.
In the Authors view heroic struggles have been launched by the peasantry.
The B.K.U (Ekta-Ugran) has taken historically correct steps to build a peasant movement of the landed peasantry combating wrong trends and has given a classic example of carrying out mass revolutionary work within a single large body,They have led state-wide agitations and are creating a base for district-level and State wide movements of the landed peasntry.It has been one of the most revolutionary democratic approaches ever displayed where no party politics has been imposed on the mass organization.
However still it is only a base for building a revolutionary peasant Movement.and is not a class organisation of the landless peasantry revolutionary peasant classes. It has yet to lead or encourage the lower sections of the peasantry. Today a mass agrarian revolutionary peasant armed struggle has yet to be built to lay the seeds for guerilla warfare.There have been historic statewide agitations which is significant .
3 .Punjab Khet Mazdur Union (P.K.M.U-10 TH anniversary year of 1st state conference)
Similarly the Punjab Khet Mazdur Union(P.K.M.U.) or Punjab Agricultural workers Union( P.A.L.U) launched anti-feudal struggles of the landless peasants and agricultural workers. Since it's foundation in 1993 it launched a series of heroic struggles. An agricultural labourer lives the life of a wretched beast. He is denied his weekly or any holiday throughout the year. When he takes leave for any death in the family or a marriage he is charged much more than the average wage being paid to him. At work he virtually works round the clock.
In Agricultural Operations, he has to do all sorts of household chores, for the master. In Peak work seasons, he has to forget rest and sleep for days together due to rush of work. This forced sleeplessness results in accidents leading to amputation of limbs and serious injuries. The landowner is not required to pay for their treatment or missed days. No compensation is paid during disability or death. His average wage is much below the stipulated minimum wage. The rising prices of day to day items forced the agricultural labourer community to slash their consumption.
3 types of issues were predominantly taken up.
The first one was opposing casteist arrogance and misbehavior with women. The 2nd one was for increase in and proper distribution for social welfare and other advances like grants, community centers. The third relates to propaganda and agitational issues like distribution of land, residential plots and improvement in working conditions. The 4th and last related to political
mobilization on issues.
Balahar Vinju land struggle
The most significant struggle led by the Agricultural labour Union was at Village Balahar Vinju.The village backward class elements had been cultivating the fields containing 18 acres for a considerable period. The Village head, in connivance with a Congress minister stage a conspiracy to usurp this land at throw-away prices through governmental auctioning of this land. Through a continuous protracted struggle the villagers resisted evictions. The peasants heroically resisted the police repression in addition to that of goondas. Although the authorities succeeded in auctioning the land in a closed-door auction under the vigilance of heavy police escort, they failed to evict the villagers and seize the disputed land.
This struggle had important phases At first when the government had decided to auction the land the peasants held a series of meetings, rallies and demonstrations. The Harijan community as well as large sections of the middle peasants signed an appeal persuading the authorities for leasing the concerned land, only to the agricultural labourers. A deputation of 250-300 men, women and children under the leadership of the Union met several authorities with regards to their cause. The mood of the village peasants was so militant that the village head when coming for the auction had to call of the auction to declare that the land would be sold to the Agricultural labour.
This irritated the Congress leaders who retaliated by calling an auction and calling for a seizure of the agricultural labourers land. The peasants under the Union fought a do or die battle. They went to the field sand staged their Red flag. Now religious ruling class parties used the issue to win votes. These included the Bahujan Samaj Party. The Union activists effectively refuted religious forces. The Union explained how through reciting religious scriptures opportunist political forces can divert the struggle.
With great determination the Union activists resisted the police forces they surrounded jeeps250 people surrounded the police station demanding the release of an arrested worker. The protest was so militant that the police had to release the arrested worker.
The Police counter retaliated raiding houses of many activists. On August 4th a public conference was to be held which the police tried to prevent the Peasant's Union from Staging a conference. They arrested electricity workers Etc.However after a determined protest of 225 people in Bhatinda district the arrested workers were released.
August 13th was the day of the next auction. The Congress leaders tried to trick the peasants by stating that the auction would be cancelled and land distributed among the labourers.The leaders of the peasant Union explained the workers what the Congress leaders were upto.The Congress leaders spread the word that Gullzar Singh ,a Congress Minister would cancel the auction and distribute the land. The Union told the peasants to cancel the rally if they were awarded the land. The Congress leaders in an embarrassing position had to cancel the land.
After that Tarsem, a prominent Union leader was arrested. The peasants through militant demonstrations attempted to secure his release. A deputation of Agricultural Workers and employees met the district authorities and asked the S.H.O to r3elease all men arrested from the village and stop repression on Tarsem.The Police were prepared to release Tarsem on the condition that no legal or mass action would be taken against the Police. On August 28th, it was known that the concerned district Inspector had come to the police Station. Women of Balahar Vinju rushed to the Police Station and within an hour assembled and started a demonstration which stopped only after the Inspector promised that Tarsem would be released on 29th August.
In Bhatinda on September 2nd the Union decided to organize a militant protest however later cancelled it. The Police were not prepared to release Tarsem.They implicated him in a false case and sent him to Bhatinda jail, and also prepared a false certificate that he was arrested in an injured State. The Union now decided to hold their protest rally on September 11th on the day a convention was taking place on the joint merging of the Dehati Mazdoor Union and the Pendu Mazdoor Union into a single organization. The Police refused to grant permission for the Unity Convention with the state of turbulence in the area.
The Union now decided to hold the convention secretly. On September 11th 500 Union Activists assembled at the teacher's home in Bhatinda, holding a demonstration despite heavy rain and water knee deep on the roads. All this was done in a secret manner so that the police would be unaware of it, until the demonstration reached the district Courts, where a memorandum against Police Repression was given to the district officer. The first joint meeting of the D.M.U(Dehati Mazdoor Union-meaning village workers Union") and the P.M.U(Pendu Mazdoor Union meaning Agricultural Workers Union) was held later in the evening150 delegates participated.
The agricultural workers from a totally unorganized force now were a militant surging contingent. From a submissive and hopeless position there force was like a spear piercing through the ruling class forces. A militant spirit reverberated in their hearts. A statement of a villager, "So small a village has kept the police of the whole district on the toes for a month, that is not a small achievement," testified this. "We may or may not get the land but we will never leave the organisation." The significant note to me made of the Balahar Vinju Struggle was the peasant's collectively fighting for their rights over land .
Having failed in their attempts to divide or suppress the Agricultural labourers during the latter half of 1993,the Congress I Leaders of the area and the district authorities teamed up with the local chieftain of the village for launching a united mass repression on the Agricultural labourer's movement. They sold the said land through an open auction to the brother of the Sarpanch and 3 others of the clique. At very cheap rates. They did this on 29th January with the help of a huge deployment of the police force and despite the protests of the Harijan community of the village. The Agricultural labourers however maintained their determination and resolve Even as they went to redress the Punjab and Haryana Court they relied on the mass mobilization of Agricultural labourers.
They brought clear instruction from the Court that it should not dispossess the agricultural labourers from there land until the matter was decided. The Court decision was a thorn in the flesh of the ruling clique.
The Teasing question for the Agricultural labourers was the method of seizing the land. They decided in the community meeting of the village that they would take possession by irrigating the land on the due date.
The Sarpanchclique threatened them with dire consequences .Showing valiant courage, a team of 70 to 80 men and women of the Harijan Community, along with 8 to 10 men from the Jaat Peasantry, armed with traditional weapons, trudged on to the fields in a procession. The Sarpanch clique counter retaliated by bringing the Sub divisional magistrate and the Deputy Superintendent of police, who ordered the peasants to disperse. The Sarpanch began to abuse them but displaying great valiance and courage the peasants stood their ground withstanding all the threats.
The Sub divisional magistrate went to the extent of announcing that the labourers will not be permitted to claim their land. He made a false plea that the order did not mention the specific land referred ..4 0r 5 labourers were called to the police Station. However the whole team of Agricultural labourers reached the Police Station they raised slogans expressing the injustice meted out to them. They decided to launch a case against the Sarpanch for using abusive language and for issuing threats. In the next few days, the representatives of the labourers met the district6 authorities.
They were reluctant to implement the Court order. The High court had stated that no one could take possession of the land until the high court passed an order. To play a trick the Sarpanch clique now stated that the land was government provincial land which could be sold through open auction. This was a major lie because the auction order of the same authorities had itself referred to it as Nazool land.The anti-labour class character of the authorities was fully exposed.The Agricultural labourers now decided to launch a two-pronged strategy .
One was to gain a clearer verdict in the high court and compel the authorities to implement it, the other was to mobilize people of the area by exposing g the anti-people character and role of the district authorities and thus add greater pressure. The Punjab Agricultural Workers Union held a state level conference on 1st July in Balahar Vinju Itself. The district authorities banned the holding of the peaceful conference there, imposed section 144 of Cr.P.C.,and rushed 300 to 400 security men to seal of all the entry points in the village. The labourers were denied there democratic right to struggle.
Heroically the labourers were undeterred. A team of 150 labourers and employees supporting their cause demonstrated at the district headquarters raising slogans condemning the authorities. The Venue of the state conference was shifted to Sewewala where 1000 Labourers with other revolutionary mass organizations participated.The Road traffic was blocked for half an hour. Effigies of the Sarpanch district authorities and Punjab Government were burnt and resolutions were passed supporting the Balahr Vinjhu labourers Struggle and condemning the district authorities. About 125 people held a protest rally in Balahr Vinju village itself.
Two further incidents had outstanding impact. All Entry points to the village had been sealed off on the day of the meeting with a huge deployment of police force. Later an angry batch of men and women from the Harijan Community went to a check post and scolded the police force present in that area for blocking their way to the fields. The force was forced to flee1In the subsequent incident one of the labourers was detained by the police on the pretext that he was calling for a rally in the village. Within minutes 150-200 men and women from the community rushed to the spot and gheraoed the jeep in which the boy was detained. The boy was freed. What was of great relevance was the words of a policeman stating, "What is the use of Imposing section 144 in such situations, the Govt just earned a bad name for doing so for nothing!
For the next 15 days, the people continued to exhibit their determined resolve. Incidents of getting boys freed from police custody by mass pressure and thrashing elements from the Sarpanch clique were such examples. On 15th July 200 men and women of the Harijan Community held a militant demonstration in the district courts of Bhatinda For 4 hours they raised militancy slogans and raging speeches. The nefarious policies of the Sarpanch,the district authorities and the Punjab Government were explained and condemned like a spear piercing flesh.
The correct revolutionary leadership continuously educated the peasants about the politics of the land issue and how it was connected to the need of building an agrarian revolutionary Movement. No Armed Squads replaced the collective revolutionary Actions of the masses and the people from their own revolutionary Experience gained an experience in mass revolutionary Struggle. Through Experience the Peasants understood the anti-people Nature of the Ruling Class Parties and the police force. In Mass revolutionary Struggle through their own experience the masses understand the enemy and the appropriate methods to combat them. The effort of the Union in holding their Unity Convention Secretly after the authorities denied formal permission and hold the protest rally showed the tactical experience gained through struggle. The peasants were now further drawn towards revolutionary Class Struggle and the need for a cohesive peasant organization.
Only militant organised resistance would liberate them. The protracted struggle of the peasantry against the onslaught of the Sarpanch clique and the authorities was a great education to them about the nexus between the landlord classes and authorities. The fact that the court order could not be implemented and that only their organized struggle could win them justice was a great lesson. Through the Struggles of the Punjab Agricultural Labour Union the Agricultural labourers learnt the importance and the gains of their collective, organized Struggles for land and their own self –defence.No political armed Squads could substitute this.
They also understood the futility of court orders and authorities implementing Justice and gained further confidence in building their own organizations. The landless and poor peasants gaining political Consciousness through their own struggle and experience is a major task in building a mass agrarian revolutionary line. This can create a strong revolutionary peasant movement and prepare the ground for setting up armed revolutionary base areas and armed agrarian Revolutionary Struggle.
In Doaba region of Punjab the P.A.L.U.after a determined struggle succeeded in getting residential plots .In Muktsar district, the repeated attempts of an influential wealthy family in evicting a number of labouring families from a piece of land was foiled. A similar occurrence took place in Jalandhar district where an Akali leader's attempt to grab villagers land was foiled.
An example of heroic anti –feudal resistance led by the P.A.L.U was in Ferozepur district where 2 agricultural labourers were tortured to death by a cruel landlord. The landlord spent lakhs of rupees in bribing the police and the media. The Union carried out massive processions, blockading of police stations, holding up traffics, surrounding district courts Etc.At every stage the Union had to battle it out with the police and civil authorities.
The last significant form of struggle the Punjab Agricultural Workers Union waged was against medieval service conditions of farm labour. Peasants in Punjab often die of pesticide poisoning. The Landlords refuse to pay for the peasant's illnesses .In one example of the death of a contract labourer in Bhagtuana village the landlord not only refused to pay the treatment expenses, but also pressurized the labourer's family in paying the dues. He even threatened to confiscate the labourer's cattle. The Union challenged this. Through militant struggle the peasants prevented the landlord from gaining a single penny.
In Various districts in Punjab the Punjab Agricultural Workers Union has carried out alternative flood relief. The so-called social welfare schemes were exposed. Numerous cases concerning yellow cards, house grants and flood relief were settled. Corruption of authorities was exposed.
Lastly the Union played a great role in the election campaigns in exposing the nefarious ruling class politics. The Union explained the anti people policies of the state and how the people were enslaved through Imperialist policies like globalization. Rural labouring sections rose up like a tornado in the "Long Live the Revolution Rally!" The Union played a great role in enhancing their political consciousness.
Through the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the Punjab Agricultural Workers Union a huge platform is being set for a major peasant revolt. One is reminded of the saying that a single Spark can create a Prairie fire. Under the leadership
Struggle for residential plots in Lambi region of Muktsar
In Muktsar district in Lambi sub-division in the assembly constituency of Prakash Singh Badal,president of the ruling class Akali Dal party, owns hundreds of acres of land.The contradiction between feudal landlords and the masses are acute.
To gain votes in the election the joint Akali-B.J/P govt announced some so-called welfare schemes for the scheduled castes of the rural areas. These schemes included a free plot from the village common land and a house building grant for the Scheduled caste families who either had no house of their own or had house to accommodate their families.
The State Committee of the .P.K.M.U(landless and agricultural Workers Organization) decided to initiate an exposure campaign o exposing how the govt.was hardly serious in implementing such schemes.
The P.M.K.U called a meeting.It was decided that actually the basic demands of he landless labourers should be projected, particularly the demand of land to the tiller., linking them with partial demands and other current pressing problems to make people aware of their complete rights. It was also discussed as to which points of political understanding of the P.K.M.U. can be explained linking them with specific demands of the campaign. It was also decided that the activits and the mass leaders would have to go through a thorough study of the conditions of the masses to know how many families in the village were genuine claimants of the govt.welfare measures.
The investigation revealed that there were 61 families in 6 investigated villages who had no house and did not get the plots announced by the govt.,there were 48 women who were denied the Shagun of Rs 5000 each and 99 cases of genuine claimants to govt.pensions who received no pension.
A propoganda campaign was launched in the area of Lambi.Thousand wall posters were put up and 5000 leaflets distributed. Mass meetings were organized in 15 villages in which 885 landless labourers participated. Charters of demands of every active village Unit of P.M.K.U. were presented by mass deputations to the concerned govt Officials. A mass deputation used to begin it's march fro the village and travel to the place where it would present the charter of demands. It would then conduct mass meetings, rallies and flag marches in each village. Over 3000 landless labourers wee reached.
The Ruling class Akali leaders connived and tried to win over the foremost leader of the Lambi Committee, a resident of the Singhewala-Fatuhiwala villages. They announced a list of 144 families of these villages that were promised residential plots. A programme was launched where the letters of the title were to be distributed to the 144 persons.500 persons gathered in the public function called the Sangat Dashing.(Sikh religious ritual gathering).
A deputation of the P.M.K.U went to the venue of the programme to present their grievances. About the implementation of the declared govt Schemes and to present charter of demands. Gurdas Badal ,brother of the then chief minister who was then present, ignored the deputation .The P.M.K.U.leader angrily caught hold of Badal and condemned him openly for not redressing the gathering.Gurda Badal terminated the programme and the P.M.K.U leader tore up the official letter.
The Union leaders using great tact converted this function into a rally of the Union. And explained to the masses that tearing up the letter did not mean that they did not want the people from demanding anything from the govt. Threatened by the offensive Akali leaders offered 40 more plots to the landless labourers. Of he twin villages along with an offer to the Union leadership that the distribution of the plots would be made with the Union's consent.
The P.M.KU.correctly anticipated how the Akali leaders were trying to trick them. On the day of the next sangat Darshan by the chief minister in the village, there was heavy deployment of police forces not only around the venue of function, but in the streets of the labourers.The P.M.K.U boycotted the function.Tht day a heroic act was performed by an ordinary villager who was a landless labourer.A policeman rushed into his house when on duty deploying himself on top of the roof as part of security duty. The labourer ,who was the owner of the house was furious and ordered him out. The policeman left. This revealed the animosity in the oppressed classes and the political effect of the P.M.K.U's activities.
The P.M.K.U in Lambu area wished to implement the road of self –reliance by the are-level team of mass leaders.They decided that the people of twin villages should be fully mobilized and a demonstration against the sarpanches should be organized as a first move. After consultation with the masses the demonstration was held
the demonstration was held with about 150 men and women against the panchayats of Singhewala village and Fatuhivalla village.
They came to know that the Sarpanch was out of town. A demonstration was taken into the house of the Sarpanch in Singhewala.When the Sarpanch saw the demonstrators he was infuriated and insulted the villagers, condemning their march. In anger the villagers tried to retaliate ,but were cooled down by the P.M.K.U leaders.
After this incident the sarpanch instigated the 67 landless families who had received plots against the P.M.K.U.leadership stating that the P.M.K.U desired to cancel their ownership of plots. They explained that only if he was supported their plots would be protected.
This affected the plot –owners thinking and their support to the P.M.K.U were neutralized. However the P.M.K.U re-explained them the situation and persuaded the plot owners to not oppose the allotment of land to the landless labourers whether the family qualifies for it within the govt.criteria or not. The P.M.K.U turned the situation in their favor but again winning the support of the overwhelming majority of landless labourers.Under the leadership of the P.M.K.U ,the people of Singhewala succeeded in getting 67 plots.
In July 2002 the 2nd phase of the campaign was started. Now the Congress had won the elections. The new party promised the same welfare measures, in it's election manifesto.
In Lambi area the P.M.K.U staged an indefinite sit-in before the office of the B.D.O on September 16th 2002,inspite of many hurdles, the indefinite sit-in started on the bare ground before the office of the B.D.O in Lambi.Various hurdles ,such as acute shortage of funds as well as transport difficulties had to be overcome. On the start of the programme the B.D.O.officer disappeared.
The masses resented his and throughout the day unleashed a barrage of slogan shouting,songs,speeches Etc.Sowing daring courage, the women stayed ,inspite of being persuaded by the men to return at night. In the evening, with 70-75 people left behind, the rest went to various villages to mobiles support. This resulted in the number of participant villages rising to 6 from 4, and the number of people from 125 to 150.
The area committee called a meeting of activists of the area ensuring the continued participation of the masses, and the continuous supply of food. It was decided that for mobilizing all types of support for struggle, the P.M.K.U leaders and activists should visit new village's everyday. A group of 8-10 people met people from all walks of life in Lambi and explained and projected the demands of the struggle.They asked the people for support, from direct participation to contribution of bread,milk,vegetables sugar, tea ,firewood Etc.
In a most convincing style the issues of the struggle were explained. The people responded with great sensitivity and donated 3 overhead covers for a gathering, and promised daily supply of food, milk Etc.Some families contributed wheat flouyr.People donated Rs 900 infunds.Landless labourers of a nearby village Khudian donated a bag of wheat flour.
Even after a week of the sit-in the B.D.O was untouched and ignored the P.M.K.U leadership. After 4 days of sit-in the area committee reviewed the situation and it was decided to burn the effigies of the Congress rulers in a new village .Effigies were now built in 11 villages and between 100 to 250 people participated in every village.2000 people participated in the programme of effigy burning. A poster was put up on the walls of 26 villages. On the 7th day ,atlas one member of the authorities came to address the gathering of the P.M.K.U .However the B.D.O.never explained his attitude and the revenue officer had to criticize the B.D.O.The B.D.O now had to beg pardon for his ignorant and negligent attitude.
After 6-7 rounds of negotiations ,an agreement was reached. This stated that the P.M.K.U.would be recognized. On September 25th 2002 the B.D.O addressed a gathering, explaining the agreement. The landless labourers were brimming in joy with confidence. The revenue officer however expressed his helplessness to fulfill the demands of the plots because ,he explained, it was out of his jurisdiction.So,he sent a letter to the district authorities with his positive recommendation giving the same justification of demands as was given to him by the P.M.K.U leadership.
Though the sit-in was conducted successfully, some important demands were not fulfilled and thus it was essential to change the venue of the struggle to Muktsar city, to target the district adminstration.On the last evening of the sit-in ,more than 125 men and women, along with their maker-shift kitchen, traveled to Muktsar.The Deputy Commissioner at first blew up in a fit of temper and commanded the eviction of the camped men and women. However the P.M.K.U leadership stood firm and ,the DC.was virtually forced to negotiate. Substantial demands were agreed to like involving disbursal of funds for housing and latrines,provison of land for collecting dung, preventing police intervention on behalf of absentee landowner, and provision of food-for-work employment.
Some of the P.M.K.U's demands wee not conceded .The details of the agreement were noted, copies made, and it was decided that the P.M.K.U leaders could check the implementation procedure after 10 days. Only after the gathering outside had approved it, the Union leaders decided to withdraw the struggle.
This sit-in struggle started by 125 persons from 4 villages ,but was extended to 600 people from 17 villages with a positive balance of funds, even after spending Rs.10,000 on the Struggle. The conclusion-the successful performance of the mass deputation at the district headquarter-gave an enthralling finale to the highly successful struggle. Above all it instilled a spirit of self –confidence and self –reliance in struggle and boosted revolutionary class consciousness. The painstaking mass revolutionary approach of the P/M.K.U was depicted.
Analysis of the P.K.M.U.
The Agricultural and landless peasants organization(P.K.M.U) has made painstaking efforts to give a mass revolutionary approach by educating the peasantry,similar to the Red Army during the Chinese revolution.However still the resistance is still at the level of pockets in Punjab and a stage has to be reached when agrarian revolutionary struggles are launched at village,district and state level.Stlll,the movement has not reached one where land seizures or direct struggles for land are taking place.
The method the struggles have been conducted on all fronts display the efforts to painstakingly educate the peasants in the need for self-organisation to assert their rights and the relationship of their struggles with the agrarian revolution.Peasants in Balahr Vinju district led by the P.M.K.U gave a classical display of mass line approach when hoisting the Red Flag and thwarting the police efforts of preventing them from holding their conference.Historic democratic protests were held.
The way the peasant organisation functioned helped spread peasant struggles to other areas quickly.(pocket level)State level agitations have yet to be launched and this being a class peasant mass organization it will have to play amajor role.The graetset achievement of the organization is it's ability to organize the Dalit or backward caste labourers.Toady in the Maxist -Leninist Movement it is a major challenge to organize the Dalit caste agricultural labourers.on class lines.(Appraisal from Correspondent in Frontline)
The organization has alos given solidarity to the struggles of the landed peasantry had participated in revolutionary Election Campaigns.What is significant is that the agricultural labour organisatin has built amovement in various districts Punjab ranging from Bhatinda to Jalandhar,to Ludhiana to Amritsar.