Other States

Assam farmers power anti-CAA fight, sell paddy to fund AASU

Sasoni-Merbil residents collecting paddy and stacking them at the local playfield for sale. The money will go into a fund for AASU to fight the case against CAA in Supreme Court on January 22.

Sasoni-Merbil residents collecting paddy and stacking them at the local playfield for sale. The money will go into a fund for AASU to fight the case against CAA in Supreme Court on January 22.   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The farmers want the proceeds to go into a fund for the All Assam Students’ Union to challenge the ‘race-destroying’ citizenship law in the Supreme Court on January 22.

Farmers in the Sasoni-Merbil area of Dibrugarh district usually grow paddy for their own consumption. A few who cultivate “that much more” sell the extra paddy at two markets nearby or in Naharkatiya town about 12 km away.

But the farming families of 85 villages in the area have broken a tradition to sell a part of their produce virtually at their doorsteps – at the centrally-located Sasoni-Merbil Rajohuwa Khelpathar, or local public playfield, on Saturday.

The reason: they want the proceeds from the sale to go into a fund for the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to challenge the jaatidhwangshi, meaning ‘race-destroying’, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) in the Supreme Court next week.

“Farmers here are dhaan dhoni (rice-rich) and they decided to donate a part of this wealth for the movement that we think is crucial for the existence of the indigenous Assamese people,” Sasoni resident Rakesh Bora told The Hindu on Friday.

The villagers decided to collect one doon, equivalent to 4 kg, of Sali or winter rice per family.

“We have so far collected more than 600 sacks of paddy with each sack containing an average of 49 kg. These have been deposited in an elongated shed the villagers built at the playfield where AASU leaders, intellectuals and local people will converge for an anti-CAA rally tomorrow (Saturday),” Mr Bora said.

Moni Manik Gogoi, a former extremist turned social entrepreneur, said some local traders have volunteered to buy the paddy during the rally. “The movement here has not been under the banner of any political party or organisation. They read about others donating money for the battle against CAA and decided to contribute what they have,” he said.

Each family in Sasoni-Merbil owns at least 6 bighas (14,400 sq ft to a bigha) of farmland. Some have up to 30 bighas.

The current market rate of local varieties of paddy, mostly the sticky kind, is ₹1,200 per quintal, or 100 kg. Mr. Bora said the standard price on the “historic day” would be decided during the rally.

“The gesture from the people of Sasoni-Merbil has encouraged us to maintain the tempo of our agitation. They give us hope and strength in our fight against the unconstitutional CAA,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 7:02:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-farmers-power-anti-caa-fight-sell-paddy-to-fund-aasu/article30588964.ece

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