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Opinion: Ballia’s society was overrun by cold-shivering farmers


Baba of Sisauli is missing a lot these days on the pretext of the farmers’ movement on the borders of Delhi. Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait, founder of Bharatiya Kisan Union and veteran farmer leader of North India, was a resident of Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district. On 25 October 1988, 32 years ago, he surrounded the vote club of Delhi and in a way he tilted the then majority Rajiv government. Although his demands then, his sons Rakesh and Naresh Tikait, who are involved in the current farmer movement, seem to be in sharp contrast. However, a lot has been written and read in this subject. But some things of that movement need to be remembered again these days.

Mahendra Singh Tikait took the siege of Delhi’s vote club when nothing was done despite the siege of Uttar Pradesh’s district headquarters and commissioners. In those days the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was Vir Bahadur Singh. Tikait’s leadership had earlier laid siege to the district headquarters and commissioners of Uttar Pradesh to demand open market for farmers’ produce. This strike of Bharatiya Kisan Union ran from 27 January 1988 to 19 February 1988. Since the Bharatiya Kisan Union had a tremendous influence in western Uttar Pradesh, its effect was more visible in the districts and commissary headquarters of western Uttar Pradesh. There was an echo of that movement in central and eastern Uttar Pradesh as well, but the effect was negligible.

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In those days, the author of these lines was studying for graduation in Ballia, situated at the far eastern end of Uttar Pradesh. The journey from home to the college at the district headquarters was done by a small line train. One day when I reached Ballia by morning train, the view there was different. Outside the southern exit gate of Ballia railway station, there were about one hundred different peasant farmers. The atmosphere was filled with cold of Magh. But most farmers did not have hot sheets on their bodies. Most were shrunk in the cold. Some local social organizations had come forward to save them from the cold and for their food and water. Money was being made for sheets and blankets for them. A businessman had arranged for tea for those farmers that morning. Poori-vegetable and jalebi were arranged for breakfast from somewhere. Some businessmen of the district headquarters had donated hot sheets and blankets from their shops.

Those farmers who were stagnant in Ballia in the morning of winter were actually from western Uttar Pradesh. The then administration had found that the most prevalent non-violent way at that time to get rid of the farmers who were surrounded by the commissioners. In those days, the police used to have a very non-violent way of dealing with the agitators.

Take the trucks and buses of the agitators from the movement site and leave it two-four-five hundred kilometers away from the place of movement. The police of Uttar Pradesh did the same thing. All the farmers of western Uttar Pradesh were left overnight at places like Ballia, Deoria. This way of dealing with the movement may be thinking that people coming to join the movement without money and money will be hundreds of kilometers away from their familiar environment and locality, first of all they try to get rid of their hunger and thirst. Will gather, will not be able to return to the place of movement soon.

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Let us cry a million cries of poverty, but it is also true that in the era of liberalization, the country, society and individuals have taken a long journey in these three decades on the economic progress front.

Today, to deal with the movement, the police rarely take this method and even if they do, then it is not possible to succeed in the current communication revolution. Today, there is no online payment facility, then people have far more capability than before.

However, by noon, those farmers, social workers of Ballia, people doing politics of farmers’ organization and local businessmen as well as students of colleges had arranged for food and drink. Hot sheets were arranged for them and along with arranging second class tickets of the railway for everyone, they had tied puri-sabzi to eat on their way and left the trains going to Varanasi and Shahganj in the evening.

The movement going on in Delhi and the arrangements being made for the farmers gathered there, better arrangements for food and water as well as foot massage machines to remove fatigue, as well as the provision of warm mattresses on cold days these days Is in In this context, it is natural to remember the farmer movement of nearly three decades old and the helplessness of the people involved in it. Today it is getting good or it has been good before, the earlier movement was right that today, it is being discussed a lot. But we should remember this incident in the context of the current movement, only then we will be able to know that the journey of the farmer movement and the farmer has completed since then. (Disclaimer: These are the personal views of the author.)

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