50,000 farmers and agricultural workers from all over West Bengal, under the banners of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU), will gather in front of Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on November 29, demanding that the state government take initiatives to set up industries on lands that had been acquired for the purpose in all over Bengal, including Singur.
The farmers are saying that the current Chief Minister of the state, Mamata Banerjee had come to power with the promise of returning land to the farmers. She had pretended to be a well-wisher of the farmers. She destroyed the Tata motors factory that was ready to operate, and would have provided employment to thousands of people in the area. However, after coming to power, she did not keep any of the promises she had made as the opposition leader of the state. They said that it is time the farmers show her what she has done to them.
The long march will commence from Singur at 11 AM on November 28, where All India General Secretary of AIKS, Hannan Mollah will address a crowd of 10,000 farmers and inaugurate the march. These 10,000 farmers from different districts of West Bengal will then start marching towards Kolkata. At the end of the day, the farmers will rest at Bally, Howrah, where accommodation has been arranged in homes of the people living in the area. People from that area will also provide food to the marching farmers and agricultural workers.
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On the morning of November 29, the march will start from Bally where more farmers from different districts will join in, and 16,000 people will march towards the Howrah Bridge. Keeping in mind that the exams are going on in schools, the march will start at 11 AM instead of 9 AM, so as to not cause any inconvenience to the students. The march will be joined by farmers and agricultural workers from the districts- Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur, and an estimated total of 37,000 people will march across the Howrah Bridge to reach Rani Rashmoni Road, Kolkata, where another 12,000 people marching from Sealdah station will join them.
A public meeting will be held here, where the crowd of 50,000 farmers will be addressed by CPI(M) leader Surjya Kanta Mishra, AIKS State Secretary Amal Halder, and AIAWU State Secretary Amiya Patra. The meeting will be chaired by AIAWU State President Tushar Ghosh.
The demands put forward by the farmers and agricultural workers include provision of work for all, implementation of the recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission, waiver of all agricultural debts, guarantee of 200 days of work and a daily wage of Rs. 350 under the MGNREGA Welfare Scheme, a pension of Rs. 6,000 per month for all poor people above 60 years of age, and that strict action be taken against all the corrupt people in the state and Central government.
AIKS State Secretary Amal Halder said that out of the 997 acres of land that had been acquired, only 11 acres remain arable. Agriculture is not possible in the remaining 986 acres of land. He added that as many as 187 farmers have committed suicide due to burdens of huge debts.
Talking to Newsclick, Hannan Mollah, General Secretary of AIKS said, “We want the state government to set up industries on the lands that had been acquired, or at least make the land suitable for agriculture and return it back to the farmers. Supreme Court had ordered that the farmers be provided with the money that they would have earned from agriculture on their lands, but the government has not done that either.”
At the same time when farmers from all over India will be marching to Delhi to get the Central government to listen to their demands, farmers from West Bengal will march to Kolkata, determined to make sure that the state government cannot ignore their demands anymore.