HOLDING banners and flags and raising slogans, nearly a thousand landless farmers who arrived from different parts of the Raichur district marched from Ambedkar Circle to the office of Deputy Commissioner on 20th July demanding cultivable lands for landless and residential plots for homeless. Similar demonstrations were held at 20 district headquarters of state.
The protest march and the agitation was part of a state-wide strike called by "Bhoomi Mattu Vasati Hakku Vanchitara Horata Samithi" (Struggling Committee of landless and Houseless People), a struggling platform of 27 organisations including Karnataka Raith Sangha, Karnataka Janshakti, TUCI, RYFI, AIRSO, KVS and individuals for a common demand of cultivable lands for landless and homes for homeless. It was formed at convention organised at Bangalore on 30th June 2016.
Speaking at the protest venue outside the office of Deputy Commissioner, comrade Kumar Samatala, State convenor of Karnataka Janashakti that was part of the platform, opined that parties that led successive governments in the State did not have any moral right to celebrate the birth centenary of former Chief Minister D. Devaraj Urs who introduced land reforms in the State with a clear intention of providing cultivable lands to poor and genuine tillers. “Unless the right to shelter and right to cultivable land are upheld as fundamental rights of farmers and labourers who are completely dependent on agriculture, even the Siddaramaiah government has no moral right to celebrate Devaraj Urs birth centenary. By displaying its commitment of providing five acres of land for every landless farmer and a housing plot for every homeless family, the State government should meaningfully celebrate the birth anniversary of the iconic leader who made significant progress in economically uplifting the rural downtrodden,” Mr. Samatala said.
Comrade R. Manasayya, state president of Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), attacked the Central and State governments for ‘backing’ land-grabbers. “Millions of acres of forest lands, revenue lands, lakes, tanks, gomalas and other public spaces are encroached by big landlords, industrialists, corrupt politicians and the like. Instead of clearing these encroachments and distributing the cultivable lands among landless peasants, the governments have always targeted poor farmers who have been cultivating government lands for earning their daily meal,” he said.
The agitating farmers demanded that government constitute a high-power committee with the Chief Minister as it head to take quick decisions and implement them in a time-bound manner. “Some of the representatives of farmers’ movements should be included as members of the committee which can take quick decisions on the matter of identifying government lands and distributing them among landless peasants. The committee should also focus on regularising the bagair hukum lands to their genuine cultivators. At the same time, land tribunals should also be revived to deal with the dispute arising in implementing land reforms,” he said.
As a next step, the "Bhoomi Mattu Vasati Hakku Vanchitara Horata Samithi" has decided that on 20th August thousands of landless farmers form all the districts would march to Bengaluru with the same demands.