October 12th: a hectic day, meetings with hundreds of farmers in Bargi, Dhuma & Seoni
We had more farmers coming forward with a resolution to move towards ecological farming in our meetings today. Before the meetings began, we went to the site of the Tripuri National Congress during the Independence struggle in India, to pay homage to Subhash Chandra Bose as well as others who fought for India’s freedom from foreign rule, for sovereignty and liberation.
The first meeting was in Bargi where the dam-displaced from the Bargi dam, who are to this day fighting for justice – for compensation and rehabilitation – welcomed us warmly. We emphasized that in the new displacement being orchestrated from Indian agriculture, there would be no notices given, no compensation paid or fought for and no rehabilitation…..the government is creating such adverse conditions for farmers that they are fleeing from their profession in large numbers themselves.
The Kisan Swaraj Yatra extended its solidarity with the oustees’ struggle and said that the experience of the people here should teach a lesson to everyone who believe that alternative livelihoods are indeed possible for millions of displaced people.
The participants in this meeting promised to come to Delhi and ensure their representation there.
We had to quickly rush to our next meeting which was scheduled for 1 pm. Lunch packets were put into the bus for us and right after the Bargi meeting, we quickly downed our lunch and got ready to participate in the Dhuma meeting.
We were delighted to find many adivasi farmers here in Dhuma (representatives of 18 villages were present in this meeting) practicing ecological farming and what’s more – the women farmers save their own seed and have not used any chemicals in their agriculture. The Yatra exhorted these farmers to now lead the way for the rest of the country since they seem to know what sustainable living was all about!
From here, we rushed to our last meeting – this was in Seoni town and the meeting was very well attended – there were agriculture science students in the 250-odd crowd that gathered for this meeting. Brajkishore Chaurasia, who was in his home town addressing his own people, made a huge impact and there were vigorous nods to many things he had to say. There was a promise that the message of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra will be taken to villages in the area. Nearly seven different organizations came together to organize this event.
The day began very well – we were ready before time and all set to leave on time. After the three scheduled meetings for the day though, the bus started creating trouble yet again – to cover 130 kms from Seoni to Nagpur, it took us nearly seven hours! The bus owner got several calls from us and he promised to take care of all the problems with the bus. However, we are beginning our first day in Maharashtra (it is 7.38 am on the 13th of October at the time of writing this update) in a very exhausted state; we do look forward to the packed programme for the day though!