Empathetic Handling of Tribal Farmers’ Long March in Mumbai, Evokes Comparisons with Tribal Repression in Kerala

The protest march from Nashik to Mumbai by thousands of landless tribal farm labourers and other farmers came to an amicable settlement yesterday, after discussions between a delegation of protest leaders and a committee of ministers appointed by Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.

The protesters have started returning home in 2 special trains being run by Central Railways. Addressing the state legislature, CM Fadnavis said that the Government had been in touch with the protest leaders from the beginning and provided all logistic help for the march to occur without any issues.

He further informed that about 90% of the protestors were tribals who had either not got their right of jungle land or received less land than eligibility. The Government will ensure litigation surrounding such cases is resolved within 6 months. The Government also agreed to look into suggestions on irrigation and a demand to increase pensions.

The CM clarified that loan waiver was not a major issue for the protestors – the largest ever Rs 34,000-crore farm loan waiver ’Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Krushi Sanman Yojana’ announced in June 2017 is already under implementation with 20,000 crore having been disbursed to ~ 41 lakh farmers by Dec 2017, and the State’s cooperation and marketing department issued a Government Resolution (GR) for the allocation of remaining 14,240 crores in Jan this year. But the CM agreed to look into whatever difficulties some farmers who got left out due to technicalities were facing.

Incidentally, Maharashtra has seen a series of synchronized mass protests by different communities in the last few years. The series of Maratha Kranti Morcha silent protests in 2016-17 went off smoothly, without any apparent political connection. But violent clashes & hooliganism followed the Bhima Koregaon event organized by several far-left organizations and attended by likes of Jignesh Mevani & Umar Khalid.

What is also interesting is that some of the politicians who are now trying to extract political mileage from these distressed labourers & farmers, such as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar (Union Minister of Agriculture for all 10 years of the UPA-era) are directly responsible for many of the issues plaguing our agriculture sector today. In Dec 2017, Pawar even exhorted farmers to not pay electricity bills unless the Government met their demands.

Memories of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar’s callous “Should I urinate to fill up empty dams?” comment in 2013 over a farmer protesting chronic water shortage in Maharashtra are still fresh in people’s minds.

Comparison with Kerala

The deft, empathetic handling of the genuine concerns of landless tribals and farmers by the Devendra Fadnavis Government also triggered comparisons with the pathetic condition of tribals in Kerala, a state often held up by left-liberals as the benchmark of human rights and social justice for the rest of the country.

The video above is of police brutality and firing on tribals in Muthanga village of Wayanad district, Kerala. in 2003 when Congress’ AK Anthony was the CM. The tribals were protesting the Kerala Government’s delay in allotting them land.

In 2013, prominent tribal leader and state president of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, C K Janu, in an exclusive interview to India Today pointed out that nearly 500 tribals committed suicide in Kerala in recent times, many facing mental problems, due to government’s apathy towards them in northern part of Kerala.

Kerala is also among the states which have the highest rates of farmer suicides, as Hindol Sengupta reveals in this thought provoking article on the farmer crisis.

More recently, the lynching of a tribal, Madhu, in Kerala’s Attapadi block of Palakkad district also brought the spotlight on shabby treatment of schedule tribes in Bharat’s most educated State. Madhu, who was mentally unstable, was beaten by a Muslim-trader led mob allegedly for stealing food articles from shops in Agali town.

Other twitter users shared more evidence of the brutal repression of ordinary citizens who dare protest against the current Communist regime in Kerala, such as this video of police brutality on a mother protesting police inaction in investigating the murky death of her son Jishnu Prannoy allegedly due to harassment by college authorities.

Moreover, at least 15 pensioners of the Kerala Govt. run KSRTC have committed suicide in recent times due to non-receipt of their pensions, despite earlier meetings convened by Kerala CM to resolve the issue.

But such are the double standards that prevail in our national discourse due to dominance of left-liberal ideologues, that such stark differences in governance are not only suppressed, but the practitioners of intolerant ideologies like Communism, Islamism etc are actually praised as ‘progressive & humane’, while nationalists who care for our civilizational ethos are relentlessly demonised.

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