An indefinite dharna is being held by farmers in Patna’s Gardanibagh, under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha. Hundreds of farmers are currently participating. The leaders organising the protest have stated that the protest is being carried out continuously at all district and block-level headquarters as well. They mentioned that on the account of the government, many areas are not allowing the protests to be carried out. They argue that the government is to blame for such a suppression of democracy.
Dheeraj Jha, who had addressed the protest, mentioned how today in Bihar, rather than paddy being sold, farmers are being beaten. and this is highly condemnable. For one, paddy is only being bought in panchayats here and there. Additionally, the PACs refuse to provide reasonable prices for the paddy. In Siwan district, in Daroli headquarters’s Doan Panchayat, a tractor of paddy was weighed, after which the farmers were told that they would not be purchased at the government rate. The farmers replied that they wouldn’t sell their paddy if this was the case.
This led to a protest among the farmers of the Kushavaha caste, They were beaten brutally due to the protest. They put forth a statement saying, “We hereby ask Nitish Kumar to restore mandis in Bihar, and pressure PACs into purchasing paddy at the MSP”. However, the government has not even provided money to purchase sacks for storage, and in addition, is carrying out institutional corruption.
According to Ramadar Singh, as the assurances of providing MSP increase, the actual price of paddy is decreasing. He says that the government is not committed to carrying out dialogue or in solving problems of the farmers. Just as the government puts forth more assurances in purchasing at MSP, the prices of paddy fall between Rs. 900 to 1000 per quintal.
Umesh Singh had mentioned how cabinet minister Gadkari had stated that the demand for MSPs was wrong as it has gone above the market rate. At the same time, however, the government gave the assurance that MSP will continue. Ministers should be aware that one-third of the world’s starving population is in India, while India’s population is only about one-sixth of the world’s population. The ratios are then heavily skewed. Niti Ayog representatives have also repeatedly mentioned that the government should not buy or store food, while at the same time, the government puts forward assurances that MSP will be continued.
In the dharnas, there is also a condemnation of the decision to make ethanol using edible items. The criticism is that this will increase food insecurity. In Bihar, the disintegrated agricultural production is not able to revive the market committee. Paddy is not being bought at the fixed rate of 1868/1888. Protesters have stated that they would die for the farmers’ cause, and would not let anti-farmer laws come into operation.
In a state-wide call, the farmer’s agitation is taking place in the districts of Bhojpur, Siwan, Arwal, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Rohtas, Vaishali, in which farmers are participating in a large scale.
The dharna was started under the leadership of Bihar State Secretary Ramdhar Singh, State Co-Secretary Umesh Singh and District Secretary Kripanarayan Singh of All India Kisan Mahasabha at Patna’s Gardanibagh site. In the dharna, All India Farm and Rural Laborers General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, Phulwari MLA Gopal Ravidas, Bihar State Secretary of Appva Shashi Yadav, Murtaza Ali, Pappu Sharma, Brijmohan Das, Devendra Verma, Sadhusharan Das, RJD’s Amir Ahmed and Basra Ji, Judges of the Justice Forum, Sudhir Kumar and Vinay Kumar of Inaus, Gurudev Das took part.
The report was first published in hindi in janchowk.com.It was translated into English by Savitha Ganesh