On the dictates of Akali-BJP government, the Punjab police today conducted large scale raids in the villages of Punjab and many peasants leaders were arrested from their homes during raids. This crackdown was aimed at to foil the permanent sit-in which is going to be hold at Chandigarh from 5th of September by joint forum of seven peasants organisations to press for their long-pending demands. A ban has been imposed by Punjab government on staging any protest in the capital since 2010.
On the night of 2 September, Dozens of peasant leaders and workers were arrested in Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda, Ludhiana and Nawanshahr districts while all the top leaders of seven peasants organizations had been gone underground in view of apprehension of this massive crack down. Three leaders were arrested from Ludhiana, ten leaders from Patiala, three leaders from Mansa, one leader from Bathinda, one top leader from Moga, three leaders from Nawanshahr were arrested.
The peasants and workers organisations of Punjab are fighting for their demands and issues. Earlier, three consecutive days sits-in were held continuously at all districts headquaters. Now, this is next phase of struggle as the punjab government is not implementing the earlier promises.
Their main demands are: waiving of the debt of farmers and farm labourers, who are unable to pay their loans; paying of compensation of Rs 5 lakh each immediately to suicide victim families; survey of peasants and agricultural workers suicides from 1990 onwards and chalk out a pro-peasant agriculture policy to address the present crisis; implement land ceiling act and redistibution of surplus land among landless and marginal peasants; give ownership rights to tenants and rural poors; compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre to farmers who faced damage to the cotton crop following the whitefly attack; making laws in favour of farmers instead of corporate houses or arhtiyas; continuous electric power supply for electric tubewells; quashing of false cases against the protesting farmers and compensation to those injured or dead during farmer agitation; and implementation of the Swaminathan report etc.
Association for Democratic Rights Punjab strongly condemns this crack down on struggling peasatry. This is outright violation of fundamental right of citizens to organisation for the resolution of their demands and their democratic right to struggle for the betterment of their life.
AFDR demands that the Punjab govenment immediately stop this crack down, release all arrested peasant leaders and advance offer of unconditional talks immediately with joint forum for the resolution of their demands and issues.
Buta Singh, press secretary
Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab