Farmers’ Protest on Farm Bills
Written by: Ms Kajal Kumari
The 2020–2021 Indian farmers’ protest is an ongoing protest against the three farm acts namely Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Farmers protested because they want these acts should be repealed as these acts are not beneficial for them.
Grounds of Protest:
Farmers and politicians from the opposite described these acts as “anti-farmer laws” also said that these acts would leave farmers at the “mercy of corporates”. In other words, they want to say that there should be a bill on MSP (Minimum Support Price) so that corporations could not control the prices.
The union of farmers claims that the laws will open the market and sell agricultural products outside the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) popularly known as mandis for farmers and believe that this will lead to the end of the mandi system. And also said that by allowing inter-state trade, they encourage electronic trading of agricultural produce. Further, the farmers believe that the laws will end their existing relationship with artisans (commission agents who act as middlemen by providing financial loans, ensuring timely procurement, and promising adequate prices for their crops).
Mostly in Punjab and Haryana, farmers started protesting after the acts were introduced. After two months of protest, the union of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana began a protest named ‘Dilli Chalo’ which involved thousands of farming union members marching towards Delhi, the nation’s capital.
On 26th November 2020, a nationwide general strike was done by farmers and many people came in support of farmers and took part in the strike.
Unions of farmers from 12th December 2020, took over highway toll plazas in Haryana and allowed free movement of all vehicles.
The union of farmers rejected the proposal of the government on 9th December 2020, the proposal for amendment in-laws, and also given written assurance about the minimum support price of crops. The farmers also said they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on 12 December and nationwide dharnas will be called on 14 December 2020. On 13 December, Rewari police barricaded the Rajasthan-Haryana border to stop farmers from marching to Delhi, and the farmers responded by sitting on the road and blocking the Delhi-Jaipur highway in protest.
On 4th January 2021, the Court registered the first plea which is in favour of protesting farmers. The farmers said that staying on farm laws is not a solution, we just don’t want these farm laws.
On 26th January 2021, Republic Day, the protesters organized a tractor rally which turned into a violent protest as the protesting farmers clashed with the police. The protesters breached the barricades between Kisan Unions and Delhi Administrations as the protesters deviated from the permitted routes of the rally. Protesters reached central Delhi and resorted to vandalism and damage to public property. After that, they reached the Red Fort and installed religious flags on the mast on the rampart of the Red Fort.
However, farmer leaders pointed to the union government’s conspiracy by citing the presence of actor Deep Sidhu at the Red Fort. He is a Bharatiya Janata Party associate and was the election manager for actor-politician Sunny Deol when he contested on a BJP ticket from Gurdaspur in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Deep Sidhu was candidly doing Facebook Live from Red Fort. But Sunny Deol, by using the platform of social media (Twitter) clearly said that there is not any relation between Deep Sidhu and his family.
Government’s point of view:
The government says that all these protests are based on misinformation as the Prime Minister itself says that there was MSP, there is MSP, there will be MSP. Some unions came in support of the union of farmers and they misled the farmers on false ground. The government said that by allowing inter-state trade farmers will get more profit as compared to fixed areas of trade. Also said that farmers have to give commissions to artisans (middlemen) because of their trade but after allowing inter-state trade, they will not have to give commissions to artisans and this is beneficial for them.
Actions done by Government:
Orders were given by the Government to police and law enforcement of various states to attack the farmers by using water cannons, batons, and tear gas to prevent the farmers from entering Haryana and Delhi.
On 3rd December 2020 during the protest, the Central Government announced they should discuss the future of new farm laws despite the protesters’ demands that the talks took place immediately. After the meetings (talking), no solution was found with regard to the laws.
The government offered some amendments in law but the union of farmers didn’t agree on amendments, they just wanted repeal of laws. By mid-December, a batch of petitions had been received by the Supreme Court with regard to removing blockades made by protesters around Delhi and the Supreme Court also asked the Government to put the laws on hold, which they refused.
On 30th December 2020, the Government agreed on two demands of the farmers excluding farmers from new pollution laws and dropping amendments to the new Electricity Ordinance.
Permission of tractor rally had been given from 12 pm to 5 pm but protesters started their rally by morning around 7 am. The farmer unions blamed actor turned activist Deep Sidhu and gangster turned activist Lakha Sadhana for instigating a riot and hoisting the religious flag on Red Fort.
All these circumstances show that mistakes have been done by both sides, not from one side. Farmers have to understand one thing that there is a need for new farm laws because after LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalization) came in India, there is a growth rate in all sectors but there is no development in the field of agriculture and this is beneficial for them as this is the requirement of this era, in other words for the benefit of agriculture we need some amendments in older law otherwise there is a requirement of the new law.
The Government has to understand if they came up with any new policies or laws then first they will have to clear all the things which they mentioned before chaos among the people is created. All these occur just because of misunderstanding between Government and people (especially among farmers because these laws are related to the farmers).