Image courtesy: AIKS
Today, Kisan leaders Hetram Beniwal and Sheopat Meghwal were released unconditionally and it was also reported that the Rajasthan Home Minister has assured in the Assembly that all Kisan leaders including AIKS Vice President Amraram and Rajasthan Sabha President Pemaram will also be released. Earlier, trying to pre-empt a large scale farmers’ protest scheduled for February 22, around Jaipur-Sikar National highway, the Rajasthan government had launched an intensive crackdown on farmer leaders. The call for the protest was given under the leadership of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).
AIKS Joint Secretary Vijoo Krishnan, Rajasthan Kisan Sabha Vice President Dulichand and Treasurer Gurcharan Singh Mour, Sumitra Chopra Jaipur District Secretary of CPI-M, Manoj Kumar from AIKS Centre and Pawan Beniwal Joint Secretary of SFI met AIKS Vice President Amraram and others in Jaipur Central Jail, where more than 185 Kisan leaders and activists are still jailed.
The farmers have decided to intensify the struggle from today. Despite the intensive repression yesterday, AIKS president Dr. Ashok Dhawale, AIKS Joint Secretary Dr. Vijoo Krishnan and AIKS Rajasthan treasurer Gurcharan Singh Mour were able to address two large gatherings of thousands of farmers who had blocked the highway. The AIKS leaders then reached Sikar, where as many as 25,000 farmers including women were militantly protesting and due to the continued arrests, have decided to intensify the struggle. Until all the leaders were free and demands met, the protests would continue including a call for a Chakka Jam tomorrow, on February 24. The peasant struggle, in the backdrop of the recent Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha by-elections results has put the BJP government on a defensive.
Farmers in Rajasthan had launched a protest in September 2017, which lasted for 13 days starting September 1. They demanded peasant loan waiver, remunerative prices, pension to poor peasants and agricultural workers and implementation of Swaminathan Committee recommendations etc. The scale of the protest had compelled the BJP state government to concede to some of these demands. However, even after six months since those promises were made, the state government led by Vasundhara Raje Scindia remains utterly unresponsive to any of the assurances it had given. Protesting against this, the Kisan Sabha had given a call for a massive state wide Kisan Mahapadav in Jaipur on February 22.
Unleashing a shameless wave of repression, the Rajasthan state government had arrested former AIKS President Amra Ram, Pema Ram, Hetram Beniwal, Sheopat Ram and over 1000 other Kisan Sabha leaders have been arrested in various parts of Rajasthan. Not only this, peasants were forcibly stopped from leaving their districts, especially on the national highway outside Jaipur. The frightful repression could not deter thousands of farmers who have gathered in Jaipur outside the Kisan Sabha office, where police was been posted in huge numbers.
The AIKS leaders along with several state leaders of the AIKS, CITU, AIDWA, SFI, DYFI Ravindra Shukla, Duli Chand, Gurcharan Singh Mour, Sanjay Madhav, Kusum Sainwal, Mahipal Charan, and leaders of other organisations addressed the farmers yesterday, on February 22. In a press conference, Dr Ashok Dhawale and Vijoo Krishnan, denouncing the state repression demanded for the release of Kisan Sabha leaders along with stringent implementation of the demands that were agreed upon September 13. They also called for BJP’s defeat in the coming elections as well as the emergence of a left democratic alliance.