Save Agriculture, Save Democracy: Farmer’s Struggle Continues Unabated in India
The Farmers’ Riots commenced on November 26, 2020, in the wake of the parliament passing The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Act, 2020, The Farmers Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. This Saturday, the protest entered its eighth month.
The protesters have firmly stood their ground on repeal, which the government has completely ruled out as an option. The talks hit a standstill after the January 26 violence in the national capital region. The farmers have since been camping on the outskirts of Delhi demanding repeal of the laws and seeking legal guarantees on minimum support prices for the crops.
The protesting farmers on Saturday, June 26, called for a march to Raj Bhavans in several states on completion of seven months, to which the center has appealed to the farmers to end the agitation.
"I want to tell all the farmers union people that they should end their agitation. The Government of India is also ready to discuss and redress any provision of law," - tweeted Health Minister
This tweet has come after the Minister has already chaired 11 inconclusive rounds of talks with the farmers. The umbrella body of 40 unions, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), finds the Centre’s statement “perplexing and contradictory.” SKM asserted that farmers are not seeking some “meaningless amendments,” maintaining the laws had “fundamental flaws.”
Meanwhile, during the ongoing 7-month struggle, farmers have been detained in states across India, such as Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana. The united farmers have thus decided to submit a memorandum of demands to the President through various state Governors.
On Saturday, Farmers from various parts of Punjab gathered at the Amb Sahib Gurdwara in Mohali, where they started marching towards Chandigarh. With an aim to sabotage the agitation, the administration used water cannons and resorted to lathicharge, but the farmers including women and youths succeeded in entering Chandigarh after breaking through barricades. Led by various union leaders, the farmers marched until the Madhya Marg light-point, where the Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner came to accept their memorandum.
"We'll submit memorandums to Governors (for repeal of new farm laws) across the country today. The movement will remain peaceful," - Bharatiya Kisan Union youth wing President, Gaurav Tikait on June 26, 2021
Incidentally, June 26 also marks the 46th anniversary of the imposition of Emergency in India. Consequently, on the 25th Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a collage with the hashtag “#darkdaysofemergency” on how the Indira Gandhi regime had banned freedom of speech. Noting the physical and mental abuse suffered in the last seven months, the farmers - stationed at Delhi borders - Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur - observed the day as "Save Agriculture, Save Democracy Day.''
Eleven rounds of failed negotiations only indicate the absolute indifference of the government towards the needs of the citizens who are at the receiving end. As of now, the Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of the laws and appointed a panel to discuss them with stakeholders. Though the panel's report was submitted three months ago, farmers have held their ground on not falling to the mercy of large corporations.