24 February, 2015
Anger pours out on the streets of the capital against unconstitutional, anti-farmer Land Ordinance
Over 350 organizations, twenty thousand farmers-workers from across country threaten intensified stir
Delegation met President at 6 pm, 24 February, 2015:
No compromise on core demands to repeal Black Ordinance
Delhi: Fury and frustration rocked the capital today, as nearly twenty thousand farmers, adivasis, workers, fisher people and others dependent on land for their livelihood converged from the length and breadth of the country and warned the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government that they shall intensify their stir, if the unconstitutional Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 Act is not dropped in toto. From amidst songs and slogans, flags and banners, representing the diversity of the social movements from across the country, the voice that emerged was clear and united – Drop the Ordinance: Stop Land Acquisition, Ensure Land Rights.
More than 350 organizations and networks of farmers, workers, tribals from all the states of the Country including National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), All Indian Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajoy Bhavan), Ekta Parishad, Kisan Sagharsh Samiti, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Yuva Kranti, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, INSAF, Delhi Solidarity Group, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Agragami Kisan Sabha, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, National Fish workers Forum, Punjab Kisan Union participated in the protest action today.
The farmers questioned the Prime Minister as to what kind of “Ache din” does he envisages for the millions of small agriculturalists of the country if lakhs of farmers are displaced by mega projects, thousands of hectares of land is handed over to private companies and corporates and the food-security is threatened by acquisition of multi-cropped farmland. Despite a roaring protest at the Parliament Street by thousands of farmers, the Govt. has introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to legislate this Ordinance. This, the farmers said is condemnable and undemocratic.
Anna Hazare, who sat all day along with the activists of the different movements said that farmers and workers will have to prepare for a long term struggle and be prepared to even go to jail. He called for a nation-wide movement against the corporate loot of the land, which feeds the whole country. Government must withdraw the ordinance is what we all demand and they must do it.
Addressing the massive gathering, Medha Patkar challenged the ‘electoral promises’ of the ruling party, which was part of the parliamentary process leading to enactment of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013. Now in ‘power’ it is seeking to sniff away the soul of the Act, by removing the key provisions of “consent” & “social impact assessment” and manipulating the definitions of “private entities” and “public purpose”, purely to promote business interests. Stating that the interests of farmers is supreme in a agricultural economy like India, Anna Hazare gave a clarion call to the farmers that this is nothing less than a Do-or-die’ battle, it is the second war of independence, a war for freedom from repressive government, oppressive laws and corporate control over natural resources.
Hannan Mollah, spoke about the need for united movement and said that the BJP-led NDA Government had brought the draconian Ordinance to suit the interests of the Corporates and Land Mafia. He said the BJP Government’s move will be defeated and struggles will be launched at all sites of unjust land acquisition.
Atul Anjaan, said this Protest Rally is just the beginning and there will be need to launch a prolonged struggle. He said the BJP Government which is a Government of the Corporates, land mafia and builders’ lobby has dared to bring an Ordinance worse than the British Colonial Act of 1894. He said it was a political battle and also emphasized the need to speak to all Political Parties to defeat the Government move in Parliament too.
Representatives of numerous farmers organizations, tribal rights groups, workers movements vented their rage at the Modi Govt’s anti-people agenda and open invitation to profit-makers and looters to plunder the country’s resources- land, coats, rivers, fish, minerals etc. Thousands of farmers also shouted out slogans that they do not need “crumbs of compensation”. The Ordinance nullifies the most significant provisions of the 2013 Act and takes it back to the pre-1994 days. The same is unacceptable, they said. NDA government has only been launching schemes for the corporates and private businesses but nothing of significance for farm sector and farmers, it was felt.
Speakers also said that similar to the British, the present Government is trying to “divide” the farmers and rulers in the interests of the Adanis and Ambanis, who have fuelled the election campaign of the BJP. However, we shall stay united in our demand for a complete revocation of the Ordinance, they said. If Ambani, Adani are your side, Birsa, Munda are on our said, roared an adivasi woman leader. All the protestors expressed a common resolve that “We will not let Modi-Govt. snatch our rights and take India back to pre-independence days”.
Various speakers condemned the unparliamentarily ‘Ordinance Raj’ in every sector, be it land, coal, mining, insurance, motor vehicles and derided the Governance through Ordinance mechanism, by-passing both the Parliament and the People. Leaders and representatives of various political parties and their affiliated organizations also expressed their solidarity with the demands of the farmers and demanded that the Ordinance be revoked. Retd. Jst. Rajinder Sacher, Adv. Sanjay Parikh and many other academicians, advocates, activists visited the dharna site and expressed solidarity.
Protest actions to continue through the Budget Session:
Various Farmers Organizations including Akhil Bhartiya Kisansabha, Agragami Kisan Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union etc. and People’s Movements have resolved that the struggle against the Ordinance shall continue, rather intensify in the days to come in every state and every district. While hundreds of Gram Sabhas across the country have already passed resolutions, thousands more shall do so shortly. “We will not allow NDA Govt. to legislate this Black Ordinance by brute force, “they resolved.
Delegation Meets President:
The farmers leaders also said that while President’s statement in his budget speech that his “government attaches paramount importance to safeguard the interest and well-being of farmers and families affected by land acquisition”, is welcome, his ‘approval’ of the Ordinance, which is fundamentally anti-farmer is unacceptable. In the same speech, he has liberally endorsed the “Make in India”, “Single-Window Clearance” and “Ease of Business” and “Smart City Programme” as hallmarks of ‘his Government’. All these approaches will sound the death-knell of the farming and working classes of this country and destroy our natural resources, to the detriment of generations. A delegation including Hannan Mollah, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Medha Patkar, Sunilam, Roma Malik, Rakesh Rafik, Vijoo Krishnan and Harpal Singh met the President today evening and exhorted him to resolve the ongoing impasse in the interests of the toiling peasants of the country and use his “highest constitutional office” to ensure that the Ordinance is not legislated. The President expressed sympathies for the Farmers in distress and said he would send the Memorandum to the Government (Copy of the Memorandum is attached).
The protest also witnessed the participation of a large number of young people and women, small farmers and tribals signaling that this movement shall be led by these people in the coming days Simultaneous protests and demonstrations, burning of the Ordinance etc. were organised across the country in Patna, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Bhubaneshwar and many other places.
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Photos from Dharna https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeathialy/sets/72157651000927802/ Credit Joe Athialy
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24 February, 2015