As the workers and farmers across the country gear up for the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh rally in Delhi on September 5, the BJP-led Manipur government has started targeting trade unionists and peasants in the state.
On Friday evening, a Manipur Police team led by a sub-inspector, entered the office premises of the Loumee Marup- an organisation of the peasantry and an affiliated unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)- and questioned its Joint Secretary Heikrujam Ibohal on the press release issued by them on Thursday.
The press release issued by the Loumee Marup President Yumlembam Jogendro Meitei had furnished the details of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally and stated that as many as 25 people from Imphal had decided to take part in the rally in Delhi.
The police then demanded a list of participants who will be proceeding to New Delhi for the rally. AIKS said Ibohal was picked up and taken to a police station in Imphal on the pretext of further questioning. He was kept in the police station for two hours, and threat of action was issued against those who participate in the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally.
Condemning the undemocratic action, AIKS said in a statement, “We warn the paranoid BJP that the people will respond in full measure against the undeclared EMERGENCY in the state in particular, and in the whole country in general. The democratic mass, class and social associations and unions cannot be cowed down by such undemocratic and anti-people onslaught.”
The press release issued by Loumee Marup had highlighted the 15-point charter of demands of lakhs of farmers, agricultural workers, industrial workers along with service sector employees from across the country who would be protesting on Parliament Street in Delhi on September 5. The rally is being jointly organised by AIKS, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions and All India Agricultural Workers Union for the first time ever.
The charter of demands include: “Curb price rise and universalise the public distribution system; Concrete measures for generation of decent employment; Minimum wage of not less than Rs. 18,000 per month for all workers; Stop anti-worker labour law amendments; Remunerative price for all agricultural produce at one and a half times the cost of production along with public procurement; Loan waiver for peasants and agricultural workers; Comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers; Implementation of MGNREGA in all rural areas and extending it to urban areas; Food security, health, education, housing and social security for all; No contractorisation; Redistributive land reforms and implementation of the Forest Rights Act; Stop forcible land acquisition; Relief and rehabilitation for the victims of natural calamities; and Reversal of neo-liberal policies”.
The rally, being held on September 5, which also marks the first anniversary of the political murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, “will also hit out strongly at the communal agenda and authoritarian drive of the Modi regime. It will condemn the serial mob lynching and moral policing and the killing of progressive intellectuals in which the Hindutva terrorist outfit Sanatan Sanstha is on the mat,” said Ashok Dhawale, President, AIKS.
“The Delhi rally will also denounce the arbitrary arrests of human rights activists by the Modi regime,” Dhawale added, pointing out the recent arrests of activists and lawyers including Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, and Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai on charges of alleged Maoist links.
The Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally comes in the aftermath of a massive campaign mobilising the masses in every nook and corner of the country for the last few months. Starting from the village level, different steps of meetings along with rallies have been held in the run-up to the Delhi rally.
On August 9 this year, urging the “anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-people” Modi regime to quit power, more than five lakh farmers and workers courted arrest at over 610 centres in 407 districts in 23 states across the country, as per the ‘Jail Bharo’ call of AIKS. At that time too, the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government had tried to suppress the struggle of the peasants by imposing section 144, in three districts- Gwalior, Bhind and Morena- prior to the ‘Jail Bharo’ protest.
Meanwhile, farmers and workers from various parts of the country have started heading to Delhi to mark their presence in the rally. A group of farmers and workers from Manipur reached Delhi on Saturday. Four farmers from Kerala’s flood-hit Palakkad have started their long journey to Delhi on motorbikes.
Thousands of farmers from Nashik who made history through the Kisan Long March, are expected to shortly leave for Delhi in a specially chartered train.