Farmer’s Protest: The reasons behind this escalating situation

The farmers thousands of farmers who have gathered over the past few days at Delhi border from Punjab and Haryana have not only been refused by Delhi Police to demonstrate their protest, but faced severe backlash from them. Tear gas has been thrown at them and water cannon were used in attempt to disperse them. The call for this “Chalo Dilli” march was given by more than 30 farm organisations under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha to protest against the new farm reform bills passed by the centre in September 2020.

What is the reason behind this agitation?

On September 27, 2020, President Ramnath Kovind, assented to the three bills: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation), the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

The law is supposed to open agricultural sale and marketing outside the mandis notified by Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), remove inter-state barriers and establish a framework for electronic trading for agricultural products. The farmers believe since, the state governments cannot collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC, the mandi system might end and leave the farmers at the mercy of the corporate. This in turn will end the Minimum Support price for farmers. They believe, even though the price assurance legislation may give them protection against exploitation, the price fixation mechanism is ambiguous. The farmers demand a proper mechanism for MSP from the government.

Minister of Food Processing Industries and the only SAD representative in the Modi government, Harsimrat Kaur Badal called the bill detrimental for the agricultural sector and resigned from her post. In protest against the bill, BJP’s oldest supporter Shiromani Akali Dal quit NDA.

How did the situation become so dire?

When one month after the passing of this law, Punjab Vidhan Sabha in a special session rejected these reforms and unanimously passes a resolution to remove Punjab from the jurisdiction of this bill, Haryana farmers wanted the same. However, Haryana government supported the centre and inspite of demonstrations by the farmers outside Deputy Chief Minister, Dushant Chautala and Power Minister Ranjit Chautala’s houses failed to take any action. This is when, Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) President Gurnam Singh Chaduni led farmers to block Amabala-Delhi highway where they clashed with the police. This led to criminal charges on the farmers, including attempt to murder. The farmers got more agitated by this treatment and subsequently Chadani called for the “Chalo Dilli” protest march.

The news of the protest so far:

  • Inspite Delhi Police turning down the request for protest, farmers kept gathering at Delhi-Punjab-Haryana borders.
  • Ahead of the protest 31 farmer leaders were detained by the Haryana Police which was condemned to be “undemocratic”.
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  • The organisations of these leaders have been termed by the Haryana Government to be “with history of indulging in criminal activities, creating law and order problems and disturbing public peace and order” in an affidavit filed for the leader’s arrest in Punjab and Haryana High Courts.
  • The allowance to converted stadiums to detaining centre given to the Delhi Police has been cancelled by Delhi Home Minister, Satyendra Jain saying the protest is non-violent and ever Indian citizen has the right to protest non-violently.
  • Tikri border has been closed for any traffic movement, where in a face of between the police and the protesters, the police unsuccessfully used tear gas and water cannon to disperse off the crowd.
  • Many protesters have been charged with criminal cases, one such protester was Navdeep Singh, the son of a farmer’s body leader who in a brave attempt turned off the tap of the water cannon that was shooting water towards his fellow protesters.
  • Currently nothing has been successful in curbing the protest. The farmers have months of ration and are not going to back down until a solution reached.

By: Mahasweta Sarkar

References

Picture Credits

  • Hindustan Times
  • Zee News
  • The Times of India

Mahasweta Sarkar

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