Kolar is one of the worst drought-hit regions in Karnataka and members of peasant families are forced to migrate and work under precarious conditions. What the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha witnessed on the 7th day at Chintamani quite early at 7 AM was a large number of people hoping to get some daily wage awaiting their chance. Most of them were farmers who looked skyward as there were no irrigation facilities, who in the context of rising input costs and falling prices for their products, were forced to search other jobs for their daily bread. The speeches by the Jatha team immediately evoked interests and despite the region not having huge organizational presence, the curious onlookers soon turned intent listeners. It was in the drought-hit District that the Jatha traveled for over an hour and but for few oasis-like fields growing grapes or mulberry with drip irrigation, it was mostly barren. The day begins for families in this region with a struggle by children and old alike to get drinking water. Private water suppliers were making a killing and many tankers were found supplying water at exorbitant rates. The Jatha leader was reminded of the 100 KM Padayatra to Bangalore in April, 2015 in which Aboobacker a student of sixth standard had mobilized his classmates and friends and walked the entire stretch demanding ‘Shashwata Neeravari’ literally meaning ‘eternal water supply’.
The next stop of the Jatha was in Siddlaghatta where activists of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene greeted the Jatha members. Jatha leader Vijoo Krishnan expressed solidarity with their struggle for uninterrupted power supply. He explained the need for forging broad issue based unity and launching consistent organised struggles on burning issues of the peasantry. As the Jatha moved from Siddlaghatta to the next district, Chikkaballapur, carved out of Kolar, there was a massive gathering waiting to receive the Jatha. A BJP protest against the celebration of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary was on but the Jatha marched ahead shouting slogans against Narendra Modi led BJP Government’s anti-peasant policies and the Sangh Parivar’s communal divisive agenda. At Chikkaballapur speakers remembered that Tipu was born nearby at Devanahalli where the Jatha passed through on 5th November. They spoke about the contributions of Tipu Sultan in fight against the British and his progressive measures. They questioned the BJP as well as the Congress for not addressing the burning problems of the peasantry. On the way to Bagepalli from Chikkaballapur there were many receptions for the Jatha at different Panchayats.
Undivided Kolar has many instances of struggle against British imperialism and feudal landlordism. P.Ramamurthy and Vajravelu Chettiar deputed two comrades Vasan and V.M.Govindan to build the workers movement in the Kolar Gold Fields. The workers were working in hazardous conditions for more than 12 hours per day without any safety. They were working as contract labourers with a very meagre payment & there were no other benefits. It was only five decades of the beginning of mining that the workers organized themselves in 1930 and went on a historic 24 day strike. The demand was to stop taking 10 fingerprints to identify & bring back the workers who escaped. Again in 1938 the workers went on strike demanding to remove the handcuff like identity & asked for unionisation. The first trade union of erstwhile Mysore State was registered in 1941. In 1946 a historical strike of the mining workers was conducted under the leadership of the Red Flag Union which was led by Vasan and Govindan for 78 days and major demands were accepted. The leader of workers Com.Vasan was stabbed and narrowly escaped death as he was attacked by goons owing allegiance to the British, the Dewan, the Management and a pliant Union having their patronage. Thousands gathered at the Malayalee grounds in protest against the attack and in the brutal police firing on 4th November, 1946 six young comrades were martyred. The workers of the mines extended support to the great peasants’ struggles in Kolar in 1950s. Workers also got ample support of the peasantry in struggle for workers’ rights, nationalization of mines in 1956, getting the Bharat Earth Movers Limited to Kolar and so on. These united struggles also saw the election of K.S.Vasan as the first Communist MLA of Karnataka. Today Bharat Gold Mines Limited is closed and the Central Government is planning to totally privatise BEML. A unity of Workers and Peasants is the need of the hour for overcoming the crisis faced by the peasantry and the working class. Speakers remembered this great history of united struggles and called for resisting the Government moves for privatization.
Thousands of people in motor bikes with red flags received the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha at Bagepalli in a fitting show of vibrancy of the peasant movement in the region. They led the Jatha vehicle through Bagepalli to the venue of the public meeting. The Jatha leader Vijoo Krishnan, U.Basavaraja, State Secretary of KPRS and G.V.Sreeramreddy, Ex-MLA as well as Vice President of KPRS paid floral tributes to the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar before starting the meeting. The Jatha leader pointed out that the ideals that Babasaheb stood for were being flouted by the ruling classes and attacks on Dalits as well as minorities were increasing. He said the Kisan Sabha has the legacy of fighting against imperialism, feudal landlordism, caste oppression and communalism. In historic struggles like Punnapra-Vayalar, Tebhaga, Telangana Armed Peasants’ struggle Warli, Adivasi struggle, Surma Valley and numerous other struggles hundreds of comrades have sacrificed their lives. He said the Kisan Sabha cannot be threatened by fringe elements like the Godse ‘Social Welfare’ Front who had claimed they will bomb the Kisan Sabha office in Kanyakumari if Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan came to inaugurate the Jatha. He explained the major demands of the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha. U.Basavaraja spoke about the Jail Bharo call on 18th Novembert seeking land rights for landless, Dalits and Adivasis, regularization of Bagair Hukum cultivators and house-sites for homeless. G.V.Sreeramreddy spoke about the plight of farmers in the drought hit region, insensitivity of the different Governments and need for united struggles. The Jatha entered into Andhra Pradesh to a rousing reception at Kodikonda checkpost in Chilamathur Mandal of Anantapur District.