It has been 102 days since the farmers launched their protest against the three new farms laws at Delhi borders and uncertainty still prevails on how long the agitation will continue.
The farmers remain adamant to their demand to rollback these laws but the Central government seems reluctant to accept this. In such a situation, it is difficult to predict that how long this fight will last, because in this country, there has been such a movement of farmers that lasted for 44 years.
However, the longest struggle of the farmers in the country’s history was ‘Bijolia Movement’ that lasted from 1897 to 1941. If such a movement continues in the era of democracy today, then many governments will change. But on the lines of the Bijolia Movement, the outcome of this agitation of farmers will be awaited, because the struggle of the farmers of Rajasthan proved the power of ‘non-violence’ before Mahatma Gandhi.
The farmers were then struggling to get rid of the burden of unnecessary taxes and now they are not ready to accept the law allows tax-free trade of agri products out of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). At that time, the farmers were troubled by the exploitation of the feudal system, now with the new law, they are afraid of increasing the interference of corporate in the agricultural sector. Therefore, farmers are opposing the new agricultural law.
Thousands of farmers are camping at Delhi the borders — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders — and their leaders are assuring of non-violent and peaceful movement.
However, after the fracas during the violent January 26 tractor rally, the protesters have been made the accused.
After the violence, the direction of the peasant movement changed a bit, the leaders of the unions want to take more interest in the maha-panchayats to mobilise the support of the people and decrease the number of protesters at the demostration sites.
However, Harinder Singh Lakhowal, the farmer leader of Punjab and General Secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), told IANS that all this was part of the strategy to carry the movement across the country.
He said that to carry on the movement for a long time, some activity along with ‘dharna’ on the Delhi border is necessary and for the first time after January 26, a major action took place on Saturday.
The farmers blocked the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway for five hours on Saturday on the completion of 100 days of their protest. The farmer leaders said that they would continue to do such things in future.
Haryana’s farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said that farmers are awakening towards the new law through Kisan Mahapanchayat. He said that the movement included farmers from western Uttar Pradesh besides Punjab and Haryana, but now gradually the farmers of other provinces are also becoming aware and the movement is spreading all over the country.
Earlier in the ongoing agitation, there were only issues related to the farmer, but now other issues including inflation and unemployment have also started to arise.
Farmer leaders say that ordinary people are devastated by the inflation of petrol and diesel and because of not getting jobs, the number of unemployed youths is growing.
The agitating farmers are demanding repeal of the three agricultural laws brought by the central government last year and want guaranted purchase of crops at the minimum support price.
However, the government says that all three agricultural laws have been made keeping in mind 86 per cent of small and marginal farmers of the entire country. Therefore, they cannot be withdrawn.
At the same time, the government and some experts consider the legal guarantee of purchase on MSP as impractical. The government is assuring continuation of procurement at MSP.
But some agricultural experts say that just as no industrial produce is sold below cost, the crops of farmers should not be sold below the cost of production, but sometimes it happens that farmers don’t get the cost of production of their crops. Therefore, a guarantee of the MSP should be there.
The implementation of three new Central Agricultural Laws, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Price Assurance and Agricultural Services Agreement Act 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, however, was stayed by the Supreme Court.
A committee of experts constituted by the apex court is taking the suggestions from from various stakeholders including farmers’ organisations on these laws.
Meanwhile, a deadlock has also continued since the 12th round of talks between the agitating farmer organisations and the government on January 22 was inconclusive.
The government has suggested a moratorium on the implementation of the new agricultural law for 18 months and a committee to address all issues, including the MSP.
The government is waiting for both these proposals to be reconsidered by the farmer unions while the farmer leaders are hopeful of getting the government called again with some new proposals.