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August 30, 2009

Food Movement of Bengal (1959)


Role of the Congress in forcefully suppressing the movement and the current policies of the Union government leading again to a food crisis

On the 50th anniversary of the Historical food Movement the country once again as the state of West Bengal nee’ the whole country is looking at the glimpses of the brave fighters and the martyrs of the Historical Food Movement of West Bengal in 1959 where thousands of farmers and workers of mills and common man came to open roads demanded the right to food and demanded for food to Government of the Independent India and the then Congress led State government of West Bengal . Tragically enough the government of the free India and the Then Congress led State Government had wielded their mighty Batons on the unarmed Man and Woman - mostly scantily dressed – Killing about 80 people under the weight of their batons on the 31st July of 1959. Lakhs of people w ho had come to Kolkata demanding Food had received batons instead . On the next few days too, the tyranny of the Congress led Government was at its best – Bullets were showered on unarmed protests taking the tally to even a higher shale.-waves of students protests , workers’ protest hit the streets of Kolkata and the districts . The tally of the dead was more than 100 on the first few days . About another 80people was untraceable and remains so after 50years of the movement .

In his speech in the assembly after the mass killings of Food movement activists on the streets of Kolkata on 21st September in the first session of the assembly after the incident , Communist Leader Jyoti Basu had told in the assembly in his Historical speech “ You have imprisoned more than 17000 people in the prison- when U had accused of violence fact proves that on the incident not a Single policeman received wounds while your baton has claimed many lives. He had told “ We had given the call to the people to conduct movement in a peaceful manner- to stall work adhering to the principles of peace – to fill up your jails in order to share the sorrows of all suffering man and woman – he had rightfully pointed out that on that day the lorries of Food department were used to ferry police to launch attack on the Hungry civilians - Equating the massacre and the attitude of the Congress led Police with that of the Jalianwalabag Massacre he had told of incidences of a body of woman in a crematorium being cremated by the police on questioning the police had retorted that they have retrieved the body from aroad. He had given vivid description of the police’s killing lathicharged on the helpless scantily dressed woman and had asked the essential question to the state government ‘ If u yourself had witnessed the ferocious attack of the police on the scantily dressed woman and the students wont you have resisted- If u are not a coward if Blood flows through your’ veins u too would resist the ferociousness of the police and on that we would have congratulated you '.

The role of the Congress Led Government in augmenting the Food crisis in favour of the millioneers and hoarders had been further highlighted when on 28th august ,1959 the then chief Minister of west Bengal congress leader Bidhan Chandra Roy had remarked that ‘ The Real hoarders were not the traders or the millers but the producers - big and small. It was aclear attempt to defend the ruling class of India and absolving them of the responsibility of the severe food shortage and the famine like improvised conditions then prevailing in Bengal. The Government till the had not forbade hoarding of Rice in Bengal and had allowed individuals to Hoard up to 120 quintals of Rice .

Infact the class characteristics of the Congress led Union government was exposed when the then Deputy minister of Foods of the Union Government Mr. Thomas drew the attention of the state administration to take remedial measures about the act of one Sub divisional officer of Contai who embarking on an anti hording campaign had sealed the godowns of Influential persons of the area and the many Congress MLA’s had complained about the same to the administration against the move of the SDO. Later it was found out that the amongst those whose Godowns were sealed there were prominent Congress Leaders of the district Including Charu Mohanty , a deputy Minister of the state cabinet, The District president of the Medinipore district Congress, Rashbehari Pal and Satishchandra Jana a close aide of the then Chief Minister of West Bengal BC Roy . So while the Congress Government tried to absolve the big fishes of hoarding they tried falsely to implicate the farmers whose bare fields at that time had made them line up in the processions of Hungry persons and had tried to change the focus of world towards false facts.

The then General Secretary of AIKS, Harekrishna Konar , had on 6 th September 2009, had in an article written in the Swadhinata Daily , and had warned the Government that by using Brutal repressals as a force to contain the spontaneous movement of Hungry people wont’ be subdued rather it would known as an anti democratic tirade of the Government. By drawing batons’ , bursting tera gas shells and showering them with bullets and imprisoning them -the common people of the state cannot be subdued . This measures for the time being can shield the profiteers and the hoarders , the ultimate boss of the government, but on the long run due the people’s protest they with their bosses will be reduced to ashes. This word of Com Harekrishna Konar has later hold to be true as after 1977 , by the land reforms the Left front government had replaced the autocratic Junta of the Congress rule. Harekrishna Konar at that time had said the’ The dictates of the History is always True and not only in the interests of the farmers and nation’s people - but also for your own good ( he advised the government ) relieve yourself from taking the anti people measures . At the same time he called upon the people to rise in protest and chain the power hungry rulers and their violent abnormalities’.

Mentionable that at that time the first Communist led and democratically elected Government of Kerala led by EMS Namboodripaad had been sacked at the order of a pen and Jawaharlal Nehru the then Prime Minister of India and the then Chief Minister Of West Bengal BC Roy had referred the food movement as a ploy of the Communists and had told commented about the copmunists in Kerala and west Bengal. On this, Harekrishna Konar, the fire brand secretary of AIKS had retorted back ‘The Chief Minister is trying to undermine the anti hording people’s movement is ablunt manner . He even has dared to give examples from Kerala. Dr Roy should know that though in Kerala there is more than 50% Food shortage still the congress Union Government has not extended any help towards that Communist led Government still the communist Government in Kerala has effective controlled the rates of Rice within 25 -26 Rs per quintal . Where as in the case of West Bengal though there was a 25% shortage and the Union Government supplied rice in excess of that shortage to the Bengal government still due to callousness of the Government the Price of Rice is hovering more than 30 Rupees and out of the range of the common people . Shame on the Government ‘.

Lessons from the movement and the condition now

Currently, price rise of essential items has affected not only West Bengal. But the entire country. Price of all the essential items has sky rocketed compared with the situation in 2008 and 2009 the price of rice, pulses and vegetables has increased by over 50%. All these can be attributed to Hoarding and forward trading by which the agricultural traders of the country and that of foreign countries has increased and according to the Forward market commission the regulatory body of the country the total value of the forward trading in the country was pegged at Rs 2.2288.06 crores at the month of June 2007 only . In next year June that is in 2008 june the amount has increased to 15,64,114.96 ie. a 7 times increase in the amount. On the on the Human Development Index the Country is at 66 th position out of the 88 developing countries of the world. Even Suda ranks before us. Still the farmers of the Country are committing suicides and the farmers of the countries and the country in the current year are under the spell of a severe drought.

Though more 11 farmers have committed suicides in Andhra Pradesh in the last 40 days still the central government has not included Andhra within the Draught prone states’ name . The fact points out to the social condition of the shining India where farmers are committing suicides due excessive loans on their head. AIKS Leader and CPI(M) Central committee member Madan Ghost has raised this question currently also. Even the Chamber of Commerces’ are telling that the country is suffering from tremendous malnutrition as per head consumption of Pulses has come down to 11 kgs from 27 kgs’ in the Country . While in the godown of the Central government more 3 crores 23 lakh tones of rice and 2 crore 53 lakh tones of wheats are stagnated which is sufficient to feed the hungry mouths of the country for 13 months at astretch. This is happening due to lack of purchasing power of the people as about 77% of the country’s population earns less than Rs 20 per day or less according to reports of the Central government Itself. Well known economist Prabhat Patnayak too has expressed apprehension that after the world wide recession , as part of the global economic system will face severe food shortage Price Hike ad Inflation in the coming days .

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