More Assam farmers donate paddy for battle against Citizenship Amendment Act

Auction put off as more villages join in; proceeds to fund AASU’s legal challenge to law

Updated - January 19, 2020 12:58 am IST

Published - January 18, 2020 07:58 pm IST

Voice from the ground:  A woman playing a traditional instrument during a protest in Kamrup on Saturday.

Voice from the ground: A woman playing a traditional instrument during a protest in Kamrup on Saturday.

The auction of paddy for a cause — the legal fight against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) — at Sasoni-Merbil in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh district was deferred on Saturday even as more farmers from other areas joined in the “rice revolution”.

According to the organisers, thousands of protesters turned up for an anti-CAA rally at the local playground as did the merchants and rice mill owners to purchase the paddy sacks stacked in a makeshift shed. The proceeds of the paddy auction were to be used for the legal campaign against the law.

However, the sale had to be put on hold as farmers from neighbouring areas kept arriving with more sacks of paddy.

From 85 villages

Most households of the 85 villages under Sasoni-Merbil had donated four kg of paddy, equivalent to the traditional measure of a doon , toward funding the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to challenge the CAA in the Supreme Court on January 22.

“By the start of the rally today (Saturday), we collected a total of 645 sacks, each containing 49 kg of paddy. The buyers had also arrived, but some villagers said they had more paddy to spare. More people from villages beyond Sasoni-Merbil said they would like to contribute too,” local leader Rakesh Bora said.

Anjan Neog, leader of the local unit of AASU said the word about the “rice revolution” — started by the villagers of Sasoni-Merbil — spread in the Naharkatiya Assembly constituency within which the area falls under. Villagers from the adjoining Tingkhang Assembly seat also pledged paddy from their fields.

“We decided to let all the paddy sacks be collected for the sale at one go. We expect to sell at the minimum market rate of ₹1,200 per quintal,” Mr Bora said.

AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who addressed the anti-CAA rally during the day, said it was touching to see farmers come forward to fight the “injustice meted out by New Delhi” on the people of Assam via an unconstitutional citizenship law.

‘Priceless gesture’

“The villagers symbolically handed over one doon of paddy to us. It does not matter how much paddy is collected and how much they will fetch. What matters is their gesture, which is priceless,” Mr Gogoi told The Hindu .

He added that the farmers have encouraged his organisation to not ease the pressure on the anti-CAA accelerator.

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