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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In agri law stir, big gain for Punjab farm unions: village-level committees double in last 8 months

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan) said, "Now farmers have become aware and they are moving under one flag. Earlier, we were present in 13 districts and now in 16 districts."

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
August 1, 2021 8:53:54 am
"We had village-level committees in 299 villages of Punjab earlier (before November 26, 2020) and they are now in total 646 villages. There has been an addition of 347 villages for us in terms of new committees." (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

Farmer unions in Punjab have seen a significant leap in the number of villagers becoming a part of these outfits since November last year, when protest at the Delhi borders began. Data shared by few prominent farmer unions, in fact, show a 100 per cent increase in the number of village-level committees in the past 8 months.

Harinder Kaur Bindu, senior vice president of BKU (Ugrahan), said:“When we started our struggle against farm laws in June last year, we were having village-level committees of our union in 713 villages, while as of now they are in 1,484 villages. Out of this, 395 villages have committees of both men and women members and if we count the women committees as well, the total count of village level committees for us is 1,879.”

She added, “In Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Tarn Taran districts, we had no presence at all, but now we have 48 village- level committees in Tarn Taran, while 18 in Jalandhar and 13 in Fatehgarh Sahib. In Sangrur, we had 199 village-level committees which grew up to 300, and 150 villages have men as well as women committees. Bathinda too increased from 80 village level committees in November end to 180 committees now and 53 villages have double committees of men as well as women.”

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan) said, “Now farmers have become aware and they are moving under one flag. Earlier, we were present in 13 districts and now in 16 districts.”

Manjit Singh Dhaner, senior vice president of BKU (Dakaunda) said, “We had village-level committees in 299 villages of Punjab earlier (before November 26, 2020) and they are now in total 646 villages. There has been an addition of 347 villages for us in terms of new committees. Our men and women committees are together as of now but participation of women has increased 3-4 times during this period. Women even organised Kisan Sansad independently on July 26 at Jantar Mantar.”

Dhaner said that their union had no presence in Kapurthala where now they have village level units in 21 villages, while in Fazilka and Muktsar too they had no presence and now they have village-level units in 55 and 17 villages, respectively.

Manjeet Singh Kadian, president of BKU (Kadian) said, “Our union had their district-level committees in 15 districts earlier, but now we have district level committees in 20 districts. Barnala, Mohali, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Malerkotla are the new additions. Except for Patiala, Pathankot and Nawanshahr BKU (Kadian) has its presence now in entire Punjab. In 20 districts, our presence in 80 rural constituencies has almost doubled. Earlier, around 20 villages of every constituency had our union members and now this has widened up to nearly 40 villages per constituency. People are concerned about farm laws and hence want to be part of farm unions who are putting up a collective fight for them. This is the reason that politicians are restless about our unity as farmers are fed up of all political parties and therefore vote bank politics is taking a hit.”

Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC), said, “We had our members in 9 districts of Punjab, but now in 16 districts. These include Fazilka, Barnala, Kapurthala, Phagwara etc. We earlier had our village-level units in about 700 villages which have now doubled to more than 1,400. Everyone wants to walk under the banner of the farmer unions now and irrespective of many farmer unions, we are united on the front of our demands.”

In addition to this, even Bharti Kisan Union (Haryana) is making inroads in Punjab as BKU(Chaduni). Gurnam Singh Chaduni is the union’s president. Chaduni in a conversation with The Indian Express had earlier stated, “I cannot say as in how many villages or districts our union has made its presence, but yes, our Punjab president has been appointed and people from Majha-Doaba and Malwa are connecting with us.”

Chaduni had got good response during his recent visit to Punjab when he had come to take a convoy of over 1,000 vehicles towards Singhu border and had held programmes at several places in the state from Gurdaspur till Shambhu border.

Punjab already has a total of 34 unions protesting against farm laws. “People from almost every village of Punjab have now connected with one or the other farmer union.. this is a mass movement and it cannot be ignored at all,” said Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda).

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