Massive protest action took place in rural West Bengal on November 26 against centre’s move to dilute MNREGA , corruption in rural employment programme in the state and demanding remunerative prices for agricultural produces.
The peasants of the state are being forced to sell their produces, particularly paddy in distress price. There is complete inaction on behalf of the state government for procurement. The state markets have virtually collapsed in most places. On the other hand, rural employment generation has come down miserably, forcing thousands to migrate to other states. Already massive corruption has corroded MNREGA for last three and half years of TMC rule. The curtailment of the programme will add to this distress.
From the morning, peasants and agricultural workers gathered in villages and organized processions and demonstrations. In large parts of the state, there was no work in the fields. Later, they moved towards BDO or panchayat offices and submitted deputations.
In northern Bengal, one of the remarkable features was the participation of tea workers in many places in solidarity with the peasants. Tea workers, fresh from a united two-day strike, helped peasants to organize. In tea garden areas like Birpara, Odlabari, Kalchini, Malbazar in Alipurduar districts, hundreads of peasants joined in rallies and demonstrated in front of BDO offices. In Coochbehar, peasants participated in sit-in in many places. In Maldaha, apart from protests of the pesants, a big procession of the workers and employees marched through district town.
In Nadia, the peasants were particularly fuming. On November 24, TMC armed gang attacked peasants in Krishnaganj to capture a large tract of agricultural tract, and shot dead a peasant woman Aparna Bag. More than 50 peasant families are cultivating the land for more than four decades now. TMC gang attacked them to capture the land on behalf of land mafias, now active in many parts of the state. To the peasants of Nadia, it was a fight to protect the right to land also. In 111 village panchayats the peasants rallied in main road to express their demands.
In Murshidabad, demonstrations took place in 161 areas. In Burdwan, there were demonstrations in almost all blocks. In many areas, peasants blocked roads for hours. In Hooghly. Peasants in the terrorized areas braved the attacks and joined in protest actions. The same was true for North 24 Parganas, West Midnapore and East Midnapore. Thousands gathered in spontaneous actions in villages of Howrah.