Vol. XLIII No. 14 April 07, 2019
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Kisan Sangharsh Jatha Sets off from Virudhunagar

THE Kisan Sangharsh Jatha has begun from the historic Deshabandhu Grounds in Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu on November 2, 2016.  The venue is named after Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das who had visited the place in the height of the freedom struggle and has witnessed the beginning of many historic struggles. It was from Virudhunagar that Tyagi Shankarlinganar hailed. He carried on a historic fast unto death for 76 days demanding the naming of the state as “Tamizhagam” or the land of Tamils. He died on the 77th day of the fast and his demand was realised when the state was named Tamil Nadu on January 14, 1969. Virudhunagar was also the birth place of K Kamaraj, leader of the freedom struggle who took part in Non-Cooperation Movement, Vaikkom Satyagraha, Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. He later became chief minister of the state and is known for his simple incorruptible lifestyle and for initiating a host of welfare measures like free education, mid-day meal scheme, starting of many reservoirs, ponds and lakes for irrigation etc. The jatha team visited the birthplace of Kamaraj.

The red flag of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham (affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha) gave immense confidence to the peasantry of the region in struggles against feudal landlordism and many inspiring struggles took place in Virudhunagar. The Watrap struggle of tenants in 1940s against exorbitant rent and illegal evictions was led by the legendary leaders of the peasantry Comrade P Srinivasa Rao and Comrade A K Gopalan. They were provided a safe haven by the peasantry who protected them during the ban on the Communist Party in early 1960s. Comrade P Srinivasa Rao who was the founding leader of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham led many struggles against untouchability and also the historic temple entry movement in Virudhunagar.

The Vivasayigal Sangham was recognised in the region for uncompromising struggles against feudalism, imperialism and the oppressive caste system. It is that legacy which is being carried forward till this day. Over 2000 acres of land that were illegal holdings or benami holdings were freed and redistributed to the landless, a sizeable number of whom were dalits through consistent struggles under the red flag.  With this inspiring legacy the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha sets off from Virudhunagar to expose the anti-peasant neo-liberal economic policies and the betrayal of the peasantry by the Narendra Modi led BJP government. It will also send a strong message of unity and resistance against divisive communal and casteist forces.