Today the yatra entered Uttar Pradesh, the second largest state in the country and one of the state with the largest production of wheat and sugarcane.We entered Uttarpradesh after cutting across the Valmiki Reserve Forest which borders Bihar, Uttar pradesh and Nepal.
The Yatri’s were given a rousing welcome at Kasaya, Kushinagar by local farmers with flowers and tilaks. Kushinagar is significant in the history of the world as the place where Gautam Budha attained samadhi.The yatra then joined the local farmers struggle agianst the Maitrey Pariyojna which will takeup 750 acres of their fertile cultivating land. The yatris declared solidarity to this struggle for the farmers land and their livelihood.
The next stop was Gorakhpur. Here 100s of farmers from Bharat Kisan Union along with Poorvanchal Gramin Seva Samiti, Gramin and Development Services and members of Farmers Club ,Mahirajgunj had taken out a rally which ended at a public meeting at the Subhash Chandra Boss Chowk. The farmer leaders rspeaking at the occassion reminded the farmers of how liberalisation and globalisation which lead to the opening up of our agriculture commodities and input market to multinational corporations are slowly trapping the farming community. The Yatris explained to the gathered citizens how the Multinational seed corporations through the promotion of hybrids and GM crops are slowly taking over the most essential componant of our agriculture- seeds.
The speakers told the crowd that after the citizens of this country opposed and stopped the release of Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop in the country ,the private seed companies are arm twisting our government to change the rules inthe country so that they could easily push in their GM seeds . This they are doing by bringing in legislations like Biotechnology regulatory Authority of India bill and Seed bill, both of which are about to be tabled inthe parliament soon. The yatris also cautioned the farmers about numerous experimental trials of GM food crops that are happening across the country without the citizens knowledge. Since these field trials could contaminate our regular crop and are yet to be proven safe for human health and environment , they pose a serious threat to our food safety and security. They urged the crowd to demand Agricultural research insitutions in Uttar Pradesh like the Indian Institute of Vegitable Research at Varanasi to stop doing such dangerous experiments for private seed companies.
The Gorakhpur district convenor of BKU, Satish chandra Ahooja, told the crowd how the farmers from the Union had, in 2006 uncovered such an experimental trial of Bt Rice by Mahyco in farmers fields in the district. This he said was happening with out telling the farmer or his neigbours about the truth that the seeds were genetically modified.
After requesting the gathering to join us in huge numbers at delhi on the 11th December when the Yatra reaches delhi the Yatra started the long journey from gorakhpur to Varanasi. We finaly reached our night stop, 20 kms outside Varanasi,a small school in a village called Durain, which gives students education beyond the textbookish one prescribed by the system. The day thus saw the yatra joining local struggles and the local struggles joining the larger one for a Kisan Swaraj that will ensure food security adn livelihood security for one and all.