`Save India´on Quit India Day: Nationwide Farmers, Trade Unions protests

Protests took place in Delhi, Haryana, Patna, Chhattisgarh, and in various places in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.

Delhi police
Courtesy: CPI(M) on Twitter
Farmers and workers protested across the country on the anniversary of the Quit India Movement on August 9, against the corporatization of agriculture and large-scale privatization promoted by the Modi government.
Protests took place in Delhi, Haryana, Patna, Chhattisgarh, and in various places in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
The day was observed as ‘Save India’ Day by the All India People’s Front and people’s organizations across the country. Issues raised included but were not limited to universal employment, education, and health, workers’ rights, cash transfers of 5000 rupees for all families below taxable income, free treatment for patients of Covid-19, environment conservation, and payment of wages for Anganwadi and Asha workers.

Workers Protests in Delhi and Patna

Protestors gathered in large numbers at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and raised their voice against the anti-farmer and anti-worker policies of the government. Some of the organizations present were AIKSCC, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, SEWA, AIUTUC, and leaders from banking and insurance organizations. 

The workers’ unions pointed out that although some industrial units have opened after the lockdown, all workers have not been given work, and those who are able to retain their jobs are being given reduced work. Further, the wages for the lockdown period have also been withheld. While employment is already at its peak, the government has now decided on the disinvestment and mass privatization of public sector undertakings. Public companies like Indian Railways, BPCL, BHEL, and ONGC, which have been extremely important for workers and for keeping the country self-reliant, are about to be auctioned off to capitalists. 

Workers across different sectors have been rising up in protest against the privatization of the country. Railway workers are extremely dissatisfied, coal workers have announced a strike, scheme workers across the country have been struggling for their rights as well. During the pandemic, private hospitals have already shown their profiteering agendas, and if the same happens to all other sectors, it will be the poor labouring classes of the country that will suffer the most. The government is doing its best to divide and distract the people with communal agendas, all while labouring people’s rights are constantly eroded.

Trade unions in Patna also carried out a protest rally that started in Golambar and ended at the Dak Bungalow, where they addressed the assembly and demanded a stop to the mass privatization of different sectors in the country.

They condemned the ‘Atma Nirbhar’ policies as being an attempt to sell the country and called upon the workers of the country to resist privatization. They demanded that the plan to privatize public sector undertakings and sell public property and services to corporates be stopped immediately, that Adivasi communities be given ownership over water, forest, land, and mineral resources, and that their displacement in the name of development projects be stopped, MGNREGA workers be given 600 rupees for their work, and public health services are made universal.

Various other workers’ groups including ASHA workers, midday meal cooks, municipality workers, and workers groups across Bihar had started a ‘Jail Bharo Abhiyan’ in resistance to the Modi government’s campaign to sell the country.

Protests took place in various districts across the state. The Eastern Railway Employee Union also protested against the privatization of the Indian Railways at the Patna Junction. 

Farmers Protest in Haryana and Chattisgarh

Farmers in Haryana carried out a tractor protest rally against the three anti-farmer ordinances announced by the government. The protest rally began in Kharkhari Makhwan village and reached the SDM office in Tosham, where the protestors burnt copies of the ordinances.

The government has introduced three ordinances, the Essential Commodities Act (Amendment), 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020.

According to Yogendra Yadav, member of AIKSCC and founder of Swaraj India, the purpose of these laws is to remove the existing restrictions on stocking food produce, to end the monopoly of the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) and allow anyone to purchase and sell agricultural produce, and to legalize contract farming, so that big businesses and companies can cultivate vast swaths of land on contract. 

The protestors had nine demands. 

  1. The government should cancel farmer’s debt for this year’s Rabi crops for the duration of the pandemic, and continue KCC for the Kharif crop. 
  2. The MSP for every crop, vegetable, and fruit should be increased by 50 percent of what it is now. 
  3. All three anti-farmer ordinances should be taken back. 
  4. The rate of Diesel should be halved. 
  5. The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 should be canceled. 
  6. The losses suffered by farmers this year should be compensated for. 
  7. This year, the guaranteed number of work-days under MGNREGA should be increased to 200 days. 
  8. The government should ensure full ration for every citizen for the entire duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. 
  9. There should be a stop put to the selling of land belonging to farmers and Adivasis across the country to companies.

Twenty-five farmers, workers, Dalits, and Adivasis organizations also came out in protest across Chattisgarh against privatization, and anti-people policies of the Central government in the ‘Atmanirbhar’ campaign. They warned that the privatization policies will soon lead to erosion of Minimum Support Prices, and in the name of ‘Atmanirbhar’ campaigns, the government is destroying and selling the natural resources of the country. All of these policies will lead to the displacement of the masses, large scale health problems, and destruction of the environment. 

The protestors in Chattisgarh also raised their voice against the rising food shortages in the state, especially during the migrant crisis. Even as health services are inaccessible to the people of the state during the increasing transmission of Covid-19, the Congress government is busy with the Bodhghat project and the auctioning off of coal blocks

It is clear that on the 78th Anniversary of the Quit India Movement, the people of India rose up to present strong opposition to the erosion of democratic values and social justice that the current government has been attempting to carry out.

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