On the day of Vasant Panchami different farmer unions today commemorated the invaluable contributions of Sir Chhotu Ram for farmers of India.
Remembering Sir Chhotu Ram farmer leaders lauded the hard work and commitment of Sir Chhotu Ram and the way he guided and mobilised farming communities towards securing some basic rights. He got the then British Rulers of India to enact at least 22 important legislations for the benefit of farmers. He sought to liberate farmers from the clutches of usurious moneylenders. To this day, farmers of the country are struggling against exploitation and Sir Chhotu Ram will forever remain a great source of inspiration for them.
Sir Chhotu Ram, was a prominent politician in British India’s Punjab Province, an ideologue of the pre-Independent India. Fighting for the interest of marginalized communities across the country, the prominent politician and leader of farmers has gone down in history. He is seen as the brains behind the first agricultural produce markets in Punjab and the numerous legislations that have benefited the community.
Born on November 24, 1881, in British-occupied Punjab, he was a renowned politician in the province. He is the co-founder of the National Unionist Party, sometimes fondly called Deenbandhu. In 1937, for his attempts to unite and advocate for marginalised societies, he was knighted. Ram worked to create a peasant group in 1920 that was part of every community and sect. The party won elections in 1935 and established a provincial government that enacted laws to regulate activities such as usury. Jat farmers from all over made their way to Rohtak when Ram passed away in 1945, where they paid homage to him. He inspired the founding of a new party in 2013 named the National Unionist Zamindara Party in Rajasthan.
Ram passed the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Act in 1929 as a member of the Punjab Legislative Council, which had long-lasting effects on the agricultural practices of the state. A year later, the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act was able to address peasantry exploitation. The series of reforms, along with the Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, made it mandatory for moneylenders to register before lending farmers money. In 1939, with the Mandi Act or the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, he transformed agricultural legislation.
Farmers in Haryana have endorsed Ram by incorporating his image into wedding invitation cards and other documents as a sign of their struggle. The SKM announced today at their commemoration of Ram, “In the 1930s, the Unionist Party that he set up enacted a law against usury that protected peasants from the clutches of moneylenders and restored the right of land to the tiller of the land.”
They also said, “The establishment of the mandi system in India is also credited to Sir Chhotu Ram, and it is this system that the current farmers’ movement seeks to protect and improve.”
Kisan mahapanchayats in Telangana and Wardha
In a spreading wave of Kisan Mahapanchayats/Jan Sabhas in support of the farmers’ protests, the latest took place in Khammam of Telangana where tens of thousands of farmers took part yesterday. The rally and public meeting were organised by AIKMS. Cultural performance and a tableau of a farmer committing suicide as corporations take over farming were part of the rally.
The pucca morcha that was started in Wardha in support of the farmers’ movement has now entered the 65th day and is witnessing the participation of many sections of society including Anganwadi workers and others.
Haryana farmer leaders have demanded the immediate dismissal of anti-farmer Ministers in the state like JP Dalal and Anil Vij. Mahapanchayats in Haryana are adopting resolutions to this effect and have also sent their resolution copies to the Chief Minister and Governor of Haryana.
Uttar Pradesh farmers have pointed out that sugarcane prices have remained stagnant even as inflation is rising, and even as pending arrears to sugarcane farmers continue to be around 12000 crore rupees in Uttar Pradesh alone. “The anti-farmer policies of UP government are very apparent and more farmers are expected to join the ongoing protests”.