PUNE (MAHARASHTRA)—At the height of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ a day ago, a small event started in a corner of the city has signalled a long winter of discontent among the farmers and workers in the country.
Taking inspiration from the now legendary Shaheen Bagh-style of agitation last year all over India, several farmers and workers groups joined together to launch a ‘Kisan Bagh’ in Pune, to get justice for the farmers and workers in the country, the organisers said.
The brainchild of veteran social worker Babasaheb Pandurang Adhav, 90, revered as Baba Adhav and many others, the ‘Kisan Bagh’ started on a modest scale with 50 farmers sitting in protest outside the Pune Collectorate for the second day on Wednesday.
“This is the first green shoot From Thursday — the International Human Rights Day — it will start at Konkan Bhavan in Raigad, and later similar ‘Kisan Baghs’ shall come up in all regions of Maharashtra,” Jan Andolan Sangharsh Samiti (JASS) Convenor Vishwas Utagi told IANS.
Though in a nascent stage, Baba Adhav feels the idea will pick up and similar ‘Kisan Baghs’ could manifest across India “as farmers all over are angry”.
“I have taken part in the Independence movement, the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, the Emergency and many other agitations. But this is the first time that I have witnessed the urban population coming out in full support of the rural farmers and workers,” Baba Adhav told IANS.
He pointed out how during lockdown, the farmers’ produce, with the help of the workers, at great health risks, reached each and every household in the country, but they were not even acknowledged by the Central government.
“Why can’t the Centre declare them as an essential service category and extend benefits similar to the schemes for Corona Warriors,” Baba Adhav demanded.
One of the organisers, Streemukti Andolan Sampark Samiti (SASS) chief Poornima Chikarmane said that on Friday, ‘Kisan Manch’ – (as its known here), will host a group of women farmers and labourers who will speak on various issues concerning the 3 farm laws along with other academics or experts.
Utagi said that there are larger issues of farmers and workers since the past few years as over 6.20-crore MSMEs and SMEs have shut down, with more than 14 crore people rendered jobless.
“We want India to become a ‘welfare state’ for the common man, farmers and workers instead of only thinking about the prosperity of a handful of industrialists close to the BJP,” said Utagi, a former national banking trade unionist.
Shiv Sena’s farmer face Kishore Tiwari lauded the initiative and said he will launch a ‘Kisan Bagh’ in Yavatmal – the hotbed of farmers’ suicides in the country – on Thursday.
“The ‘Bharat Bandh’ has shown the farmers’ power to the arrogant BJP government If they don’t revoke the 3 black laws unconditionally, there will be a ‘Kisan Bagh’ in every village in the country,” warned Tiwari, who is advisor to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and accorded a Minister status.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana President Raju Shetti said the JASS initiative would be implemented by him from tomorrow in farming centres.
“The ‘Bharat Bandh’ of Dec. 8 was a joint initiative of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee of which we were all constituents We shall also join the ‘Kisan Bagh’ for justice to the peasantry from Thursday,” Shetti told IANS.
The organisers explain that under the guise of ‘One Nation, One Market’ the BJP is conspiring to destabilize the country’s agro-economy and food security at the hands of a few big corporate houses which the masses have now realized and are standing solid with the farmers and workers.
All the leaders – Baba Adhav, Utagi, Chikarmane, Tiwari, Shetti – avowed that the ‘Kisan Baghs’ will continue till the Centre unconditionally repeals the “3 black farmers laws and the 4 anti-workers laws”.