Vol. XLIII No. 14 April 07, 2019
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ASSAM: State Level Study Camp of Kisan Sabha

Satanjib Das

A THREE-day study camp of the Assam state Kisan Sabha, an affiliate of the AIKS, was held on October 27-29 in Dhemaji, a semi-rural district town on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river. In the north and east of this district are hilly ranges of Arunachal Pradesh and the mighty river Brahmaputra flows from east to west in the southern part of the district. The district is vulnerable to floods which occur annually in the district as different tributaries such as Jiadhal and Gai originating from Arunachal Pradesh flow southwest carrying enormous amount of alluvium through the district before meeting the river Brahmaputra.

Overwhelming majority of the population of Dhemaji district lives on agriculture. Paddy is the major agri crop cultivated in around 55 per cent of the gross cropped area. Potato, pulses and mustard are the other crops grown in the district. Fruits and vegetables also are cultivated on a moderate scale. Piggery, dairy and goat rearing are the major allied agricultural activities. It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that Dhemaji was selected as the venue of the three-day study camp.

The study camp began with the hoisting of the Red Flag of Kisan Sabha in the afternoon of October 27 by AIKS president Ashok Dhawale. As many as 143 selected leading activists of the state Kisan Sabha attended the camp which was conducted by its state president Fazlur Rahman.  The camp was organised in commemoration of the bicentenary of Karl Marx. A special issue of ‘Krishak Sangram’, the mouthpiece of the Assam State Kisan Sabha, was brought out on this occasion. The subjects discussed in the camp were as follows: (1) The present agrarian crisis – causes, effects and remedies; (2) Current political challenges and the danger of communalism; (3) Agrarian situation and tasks in Assam; (4) History of AIKS and building up the organisation. Dhawale spoke on the first and second subjects, while Hemen Das, a veteran leader of the state’s peasant movement, dwelt on the third subject and AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah deliberated on the fourth subject. Following the deliberations, question-answer sessions were held where participants raised certain questions which were replied to and explained by the respective speakers.

In the midst of the three-day camp, an extended meeting of the state council of the Assam State Kisan Sabha was held in the evening of October 28. It was also attended and addressed by Ashok Dhawale and Hannan Mollah. The meeting took a number of important decisions to strengthen the movement and organisation of the Kisan Sabha in the state. It was also decided to participate in the Kisan Mukti March led by the AIKSCC to Delhi on November 29-30 and to make the nationwide two-day general strike on January 8-9, called jointly by all trade unions, a massive success.

On October 29 at about 12.30 pm, the three-day study camp concluded with a huge rally of peasants and workers that marched through the main thoroughfares of Dhemaji town before culminating in a massive public meeting held at Tiwa Bhaban field. At a time when the state of Assam has been witnessing simmering tension between different linguistic, ethnic and religious communities and blood-letting engineered by the ruling BJP and its ilk in the wake of Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 and NRC updation, the massive rally participated by thousands and thousands of peasants, workers and other sections of toiling masses held out an inspiring spectacle of toilers’ militant unity under the banner of red flag. Peasants and unorganised sector workers not only from the rural areas of Dhemaji district but also from adjacent districts of Lakhimpur, Biswanath and Sonitpur poured in huge members and joined the rally. The rallyists raised slogans demanding land pattas to the peasants, declaration of the problem of flood and erosion of the state as national problem and its permanent solution, remunerative prices to agricultural produce, irrigation, stoppage of eviction, scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, inclusion of the names of all Indians in NRC etc. Dhemaji rarely witnessed such a rally which was a rally with a difference both quantitively and qualitatively. It demonstrated that it is only the toilers organised under the banner of red flag who can constitute the strong bulwark against all hues of communal and divisive forces. The venue of the public meeting also witnessed a cultural programme participated by several progressive cultural troupes that brought out the diverse and vibrant people’s culture of the state.

The public meeting was addressed by Hannan Mollah, Ashok Dhawale, Hemen das, Tiken Das, Fazlur Rahman and Khageswar Changmai, and was presided over by Amiya Kumar Handique. All the speakers lambasted the anti-peasant and anti-people policies of the BJP governments both at the centre and in the state as well as the divisive and communal policies they are pursuing. Speakers decried the failure of the state government to give land pattas to the peasants despite the fact that they have been cultivating and occupying the lands for many years, to provide adequate public irrigation, ensure remunerative prices to agri produce, to solve the problem of flood and erosion on a permanent basis and to implement the forest rights act. They also accused the Modi government of bringing in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 with a sinister design to deepen communal polarisation and derail the process of updation of NRC with March 24, 1971 as the cutoff date. The speakers called upon the people to unitedly resist these policies and make all-out efforts to make the two-day nationwide general strike in January a total success.

The study camp as well as the public meeting and rally generated tremendous enthusiasm which will help the peasant and democratic movement to march forward with confident strides in the state

Dhawale also addressed a well-attended public meeting in Dibrugarh on October 26, jointly organised by Dibrugarh and Tinsukia district units of the Kisan Sabha and the CITU. Peasants, workers and other sections of the working people attended the meeting. Dhawale exposed the anti-peasant, anti-worker and anti-people character of the policies pursued by the BJP governments at the centre and in the state. He also laid bare the divisive designs and the politics of communal divide pursued by the BJP dispensations and their mentor RSS to divide the working people and distract their attention from the basic issues of lives and livelihood. He called for united resistance struggle to reverse these policies.