As the stalemate persists, farmers have decided to expand their agitation in other parts of India.
By Rakesh Raman
Thousands of Indian farmers observed today (September 27) a Bharat Bandh (nationwide strike) to mark their protest against the contentious farm laws introduced by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s government in 2020.
Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – the umbrella organization of nearly 40 protesting farm unions – had given the protest call to block roads and for the closure of government and private offices, educational institutions, shops, industries, and commercial establishments from 6 am to 4 pm.
Although the Bharat Bandh was supposed to be observed throughout the country, its effect was mainly limited to Punjab and Haryana states from where most of the farmers have been participating in the ongoing agitation.
Farmers – mainly from Punjab, Haryana, and UP states – have been protesting since November 2020 against the three farm laws recently announced by the Modi government. Their demands also include the legal guarantee by the government to give a minimum support price (MSP) for certain crops.
Farmers fear that the new laws will deprive them of their farming rights and they will lose their lands which will be grabbed by Modi’s capitalist friends. They expect the government to withdraw these laws and ensure MSP for their crops. [ You can click here to watch a related video in Punjabi language. ]
However, the Modi government has flatly refused to accept farmers’ demands. After holding some initial talks with the SKM leaders, the government has not called farmers for any meeting during the past many months.
Modi says that through the new farm laws, the Parliament of India has given a legal form to the agricultural reforms after a lot of deliberation. Protesters, however, argue that Modi is autocratically using his party’s majority in Parliament to impose anti-people laws.
As the stalemate persists, farmers have decided to expand their agitation in other parts of India by forming local units of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) in different states. The call for Bharat Bandh was given to highlight farmers’ demands and the agrarian crisis in India.
Farm leaders pledge that they will not end their agitation until the government accepts all their demands.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.
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