On July 22, police opened fire on peasants in Rewari who have been protesting against forcible acquisition of their lands by the Haryana government. Over thirty peasants are reported injured in these firings. The Haryana government has launched a campaign of intimidation including foisting of false cases on peasants, in an effort to divide them and crush their struggle. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar condemns the state repression unleashed on the peasants of Rewari.
As always, the capitalist media paints the victims as the trouble makers. According to the media, and the Haryana government, the problem is that the farmers were carrying out a rasta roko (road blockade) on the Delhi Jaipur National Highway, and this had to be forcibly lifted. They hide the truth that the farmers were forced to carry out this form of protest as the only way to make their voice heard.
The struggle in Rewari is part of the ongoing struggle of peasants all over the country against forcible acquisition of their land, by the State for ensuring maximum profits for the bourgeoisie. In the state of Haryana, the big bourgeoisie is trying to use the strategic location, close to the national capital and connected by highways, to establish all kinds of projects. The Central and state governments are working in tandem over this. The state government has a plan to develop industrial sectors in the Bawal area situated along the Delhi Jaipur Highway in Rewari District. It proposes to forcibly acquire 3700 acres of land in 21 villages.
In 2010, notices under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act were issued to the land-owners of these villages whose land had been identified for the purpose. The majority of peasants did not want to part with their fertile lands. Moreover, they knew that several chunks of land owned by certain influential and politically connected persons were left out of the acquisition process. This is allowed by the Land Acquisiton Act, and is a vehicle for some people with connections to make huge profits while the broad mass of farmers are deprived of their livelihood.
In June 2012, the authorities began to move in to the villages to take over the lands. The peasants realised that their opposition to land acquisition needed an organised form, otherwise the state would divide and crush them easily. On June 20, they issued a 20-day ultimatum to the authorities concerned, to cancel the decision to acquire land. They demanded that the acquisition proceedings be stalled till a Central law on land acquisition was enacted. The farmers appealed to the state government to heed their voices. However, the response of the state was to issue notices under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act to those whose land was under acquisition.
This enraged the peasants. Angry villagers moved to the Rewari mini-secretariat and began their dharna there. When the dharna continued for five days, the police provoked clashes with the peasants. Many were injured in these clashes. Using this incident, the state attacked the peasants by lodging criminal cases on them and their leaders. The peasants decided to step up the struggle. They called for a bandh in Rewari and Bawal. On July 22, they convened a mahapanchayat of Bawal Chaurasi (a cluster of 84 villages of the Bawal region) under the banner of the Bhumi Adhigrahan Sangharsh Samiti. Thousands of peasants attended the mahapanchayat. It is the mahapanchayat which gave the call for the blockade of the Delhi-Jaipur Highway as a mark of protest.
The struggle of the Rewari peasants is entirely just. The state has no right to deprive them of their lands. The entire country has rejected the colonial Land Acquisition Act, as well as the proposed amended act of the Union Cabinet. The colonial Land Acquisition Act must be immediately repealed.
All land acquisitions must be halted immediately, until a new law is framed, which recognizes the rights of those who till the land, de-recognizes the “right to acquire” claimed by private exploiting interests, and recognizes that land is a gift of nature and not a commodity to be bought and sold.