-Rajesh Tyagi & Adhiraj Bose/ 16 September 2009
‘The Independent’ which in any case cannot be accused even slightly of revolutionary leanings, has made a startling revelation, in its report on 7 September 2009, that the devastated peasants in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India, finding themselves unable to keep together the body and soul of their family, are now, as the last stake, have started to sell their wives to the rich money-lenders and landlords, fetching a price somewhere between Rs. 4000 to 12000, depending upon the appearance of the woman.
“The deals are allegedly being settled on a legal stamp paper under the heading ‘Vivaha Anubandh’ meaning Marriage Contract. Once the new “husband” is tired of the woman, he retains the right to sell her further to another man”, the Independent has reported.
The extreme plight of peasants, makes it abundantly clear that hundreds of crores, allocated for relief packages for the drought affected peasants in the region of Bundelkhand, by the State and Central Government, have been gobbled by the political and bureaucratic cliques, leaving the peasants to suffer their destiny.
The independent has quoted one of the victim wife saying, “My husband sold me to another man for Rs 8,000 only. My buyer took me to the Court to make our wedding look legal. During the trip I got the chance to escape.”
Needless to say that in most of the cases, the women are illiterate and are not able even to read what is being written in the alleged ‘contract’.
As usual, after the exposure, which has its political implications, the shamefaced National Commission for Women (NCW), says it would send a team to investigate the reports.
Absolving the Central Government of the issue and hoping to derive a political mileage against the State Government of Mayawati, Girija Vyas, the Congress leader and chief of the NCW, said, “It is awful and unbelievable that it still happens in the country, and that too in Uttar Pradesh where the chief minister is a woman. We have written letter to the Chief Minister and are sending a team to find the details and report back in 24 hours”.
Mayawati, has however, denied the reports outright, saying that the same are device to defame her government and has denied even the need to look into the matter.
Confronted by the media, District Magistrate of Jhansi has admitted that such contracts are being executed, frequently.
With the reports pouring in that thousands of such 'Vivah Anubandh' have been executed by the poor farmers, the political scenario has become a bit hot. Opposition parties, showing no seriousness for the issue, and in common agreement upon the neo-liberal capitalist policies with each other, and the government, are making a false hue and cry to take electoral advantage of the plight of peasants.
One of the farmers, known as Kalicharan, who helped expose the situation through the media, said he is now being harassed by the police and local authorities who are interested only in window dressing of the matter after it has shocked the conscience of many.
“I was summoned to the police station and questioned”, Kalicharan told to the reporter. “I told them, I had spoken to the media because no one was listening to us. But they threatened me and said I was lying. My wife was also called to the police station.”
The authorities continue to blame the situation upon lack of rains in the region and a situation of drought. The issue is that the problems of colonial era- floods and droughts-still continue to devastate the peasantry with no improvement in infrastructure to overcome the same.
The fact is that it is not only Bundelkhand, but more prosperous regions of the State like its western parts, which are becoming witness to increasing devastation of peasantry resulting into more and more suicides by farmers. Not only in Uttar Pradesh, but in other States also, peasantry is suffering equally under the same abominable and worsening conditions. Recently Andhra Pradesh has been and still remains in focus for the same reasons of farmers suicides. Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and even the richest regions of Punjab are experiencing the similar destruction of peasantry.
What the political representatives and spokesmen of bourgeois deliberately hide from the people is that it is not the natural calamities, but the very mechanics of neo-liberal capitalism, which are pulverising the peasantry in backward countries, while seeking ever new avenues for profiteering all over the globe.
The concern of ruling bourgeois governments for the peasantry can be gauged by the simple fact that while the Government of Bahujan Samaj Party, ruling in Uttar Pradesh, under Chief Minister Mayawati has allocated only Rs. 6.15 Crores for drought relief in entire Bundelkhand, she has already spent Rs. 553 Crores on an insane campaign of erecting statues all over the state, including many of her own.
For those in power, suicides and sale of children by farmers, becoming routine matters, have ceased to invite attention and have outlived their political importance as an issue which may enrage the masses. Now, sale of wives is the recent addition to the list of the woes of peasantry, of which there seems to be no end, till the capitalism rules the world.
It is not the rains, but the political revolution, putting a workers and peasants’ government in power, that can present the real prospect of salvage of the peasantry from all calamities natural or otherwise.