Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, December 3
Punjab’s farmers’ movement didn’t spring up overnight, but is born of years of farm leaders’ struggle, several cases slapped on them and stories of facing the police brutality as that of finding support in the masses they fight for.
The present uprising is the product of a sustained struggle of past five decades, says Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary, BKU (Ugrahan). The present crop of leaders, including Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Sukhdev Singh Kokri, Nirbhay Singh Dhudike, Dr Darshan Pal and Surjit Phul are the product of battles for justice waged in the 1970s when incidents like “Moga Goli Kaand” and assassination of popular student leader Pirthipal Singh Randhawa caught the imagination of the youth. The same crop joined the farmers’ legendary uprising that started in 1984, when Punjab’s Raj Bhawan was gheraoed for several weeks.
The journey of these leaders is full of sacrifices and struggle. Jhanda Singh Jaithuke, senior vice-president, BKU (Ugrahan) at one point of time was facing around 50 criminal cases. A famous tale goes about him that once cops in Rampura Phul hanged him upside down in the front yard of a police station and beat him mercilessly.
“But they couldn’t shake his resolve to build a strong peasant movement. Similar is the story of Sukhdev Kokri and Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who were facing dozens of cases and spent several months in jails. Kokri, at one point of time, had two dozen cases against him, one under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
BKU (Krantikari) president Surjit Phul, who is known for raising voice against any state atrocity, became one of the first victims of the draconian UAPA in 2009.
Now the leadership which became active five decades ago is entering the seventies but it has certainly inspired a new crop of farm activists.