Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Landless and fisherfolk demonstration to distribute water bodies and khasland

On 10 June 2012 Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF) and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha (BKS) jointly organized a demonstration and memorandum submission program in Bhurugamari sub-district of Kurigram district. Hundreds of women and men marched from Bangashonar hat (local market) to Bhurugamari to give the memorandum to the local administration with 6 demands. They organized a demonstration in front of the local administration building and then handed over the memorandum to the sub-district officer. They demanded that the government distribute all common water bodies including Bongasonar Chora and khaslands (unused land) among the genuine fisherfolk and landless. 

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Indian Farmer loses life at BJP office during agitation

15 June: Farmer Kartar Singh, a senior citizen, from Bhora kalaan, Muzaffar Nagar, became a martyr during the agitation by farmers of Bhartiya Kisan Union today at BJP office. Police personnel were present in large numbers. Ironically water cannons were already deployed, but there were no water tanks for people to drink water. Kartar Singh lost his life due to non-availability of water in the scorching sun and an untoward scuffle with policemen. More than 50 thousand farmers had assembled at Jantar Mantar road early this morning. The farmers demonstrated their solidarity with their brethren of Annupur district, Madhya Pradesh, who have been jailed for protesting against forcible land acquisition. Hordes of farmers have reached from far and wide places like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They are demanding immediate release of arrested farmers by the Shhivraj Singh Chauhan led Bhartiya Janta Party state govt of Madhya Pradesh, and also a fair compensation for their land, after following due procedures of land acquisition. 

The farmers will continue to stay put at the BJP office at Ashoka road in Delhi.

Background:Forcible Land Acquisition by BJP Madhya Pradesh state govt
In the hinterland of Madhya Pradesh is a lesser known Annupur district with over one third forest area. The sparsely populated district has 6 lakh natives where more than 3 lakh are Scheduled tribes and over 4 lakh are Scheduled castes. The nation is as oblivious to existence of Annupur as to the struggle of its farmers. 
Farmers here were aghast when their standing crop was destroyed by state administration of Madhya Pradesh and the land awarded to Moser Baer Projects Thermal Power plant in 2010 in a gross violation of the current LARR (Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.) 
Farmers had refused to part with their lands at the states measly offering. The state has also not sought any prior clearance from Environment Ministry. The land acquisition of fertile cultivable forest land for a coal based thermal power plant violates norms of EPA (Environment Protection Act), FRA (Forest Rights Act) or PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act). Farmer’s land was forcibly acquired regardless of their dissent ongoing since 2010. Meanwhile Moser Baers Project’s construction is nearing 60% completion.

Farmers from Bharitya Kisan Union led a peaceful demonstration on 5th May, 2012. The state police lathi charged the defenceless farmers and slapped criminal charges on them like IPC section 307 (Attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with weapons), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly). Charges were framed also against Rakesh Tikait, head of Bhartiya Kisan Union, who wasn’t even present at the 5th May demonstration. BKU planned for another agitation against the malicious indictment of farmers on 30th May. When Rakesh Tikait and hundreds of others reached Annupur by railways, they were arrested from the station in Annupur. Rakesh Tikait and hundreds of other innocent farmers are still in various jails in Annupur. While BJP led Madhya Pradesh state govt is impervious to all demands of farmers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hundreds of farmers jailed resisting landgrab for Moserbaers coal based power plant in MP

Farmers in Rampur UP
burn effigy of MP chief minister
-->Madhya Pradesh, India: About a thousand rail bound BKU activists from Uttar Pradesh (UP) along with leader Rakesh Tikait  on their way to Madhya Pradesh (MP) were lathi charged and arrested en-route and thrown in Jail on the 30 May by the MP government. They were going in solidarity with an anti land grabbing struggle against a Moserbaer power plant. Moserbaer is developing an unsustainable coal based Thermal Power project in the district Anuppur of Madhya Pradesh. BKU farmers were arrested at various railway stations and have been put in jails in many places like Annupur, Umriya, Byohari,Katni etc. About 98 women were put back into the trains and sent back to UP.

Farmers occupy BJP office in Muzzafarnagar UP
A farmers panchayat had been called at Anuppur to address the violent land grabbing of farmers and adivasi lands at throwaway prices and the criminalization of the protests. Many of the lands grabbed are owned by adivasi's - up to 36% of the population of Annupur district is tribal and requires forest clearances. While many have not even been compensated, the rate that is being offered is as low as 16 Rs per meter which is even cheaper than cloth said angered farmers. Fake criminal charges have been slapped on many farmers and the police has been using strong violence to quell protests. Farmers have demanded that criminal charges be removed, farmers be released and that no lands be acquired until the pending Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act is finalized. Most importantly, they demand that governments need to stop criminalization of protesters and instead invite them for dialogues during land struggles. BKU with other farmers movements have supported the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee that no lands
Chandauli UP farmers protest at BJP office
be acquired for private players, that all agricultural lands (weather single or multi cropped) be banned from acquisition for the nations food sovereignty as well as that land givers need to give their consent – not merely be 'consulted' which can easily be forged in practice.

BKU has mobilized against the Bhartiya Janta Party across UP to demand the release of Rakesh Tikait and other hundreds of arrested farmers. The ruling BJP party government in MP state has been challenged by the farmers as being hypocritical as it has been organizing various pro farmer activities as part of its political campaign but on the ground has stolen farmers lands and used violence against them. Various actions have been carried out in the districts of Bijnaur, Chandoli, Fatehpura, Gajrola, Meerat, Noida, Saharanpur, Rampur etc and puppets of the chief minister Shivraj Singh have also been burned. BKU has threateend a “jail bharao” if the farmers are not released and the criminal charges on them are not removed.
Noida farmers protest at BJP headquarters

Finally, as the struggles around land grabbing intensify in India, peoples movements both nationally and internationally have been questioning the recent global trends and rationale behind land grabbing for the interests of a few over the real developmental needs of the many. They have questioned the obsession with land grabbing for industrialization that is geared towards elite consumption and not for feeding, clothing, housing, education, and the medical and livelihood needs of the masses. Finally they have questioned the domination of the urban vision over rural agrarian life. A development model that can keep people in the countryside, provide them sustainable dignified livelihoods, allow them to produce food and feed the nation is the key path to addressing the multiple environmental and hunger crisis that envelopes the world today.