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Hijacked farmers’ protests

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Ritwik Mehta
Ritwik Mehta
I am a policy research analyst with having a deep interest in economics. I am a freelance digital marketer and a data science enthusiast.

‘We are farmers, if we will not feed you then who will? So, listen to our demands!’

You might have heard these words many times from the farmers doing the protests. The initial demands of the farmers were either to take back the farm law OR just do the amendment by assuring the MSP. But slowly and steadily as the protests grew, Maoists, Khalistanis and other ‘so-called’ politicians and intellectuals turned into farmers, increasing the demand list of the farmers. The final demands of the farmers are as follows: 

1. Repeal the three recent agriculture laws, besides the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020.
2. Implement a Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) throughout the country and include in it all essential food and non-food items of basic necessities.
3. Implement the formula recommended by Swaminathan Commission to fix profitable MSPs for all crops.
4. Legally ensure government procurement on MSP for all crops.
5. Also implement other pro-farmer recommendations of Swaminathan Commission.
6. Rollback steps directed towards deregulating and decontrolling trade and commerce of farm produce in favor of big Indian and foreign traders and multinational companies.
7. Put an end to farmers’ exploitation by big traders and MNCs in government-regulated agriculture produce markets.
8. Put an end to the monopoly of Indian and foreign corporate and multinational companies over the trade of agriculture inputs. Make these inputs available to farmers at subsidized rates.
9. Immediately release detained and imprisoned intellectuals, democratic rights activists, and student activists all over the country. Withdraw false cases registered against them.
10. Withdraw all restrictions imposed against the right to struggle. Take steps to ensure the right to struggle.
11. Repeal the ordinance imposing a fine of Rs one crore and imprisonment for five years on helpless farmers burning paddy stubble.
12. Make full arrangements for the harmless disposal of stubble according to directions of the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal. Else, pay Rs 200 per quintal bonus on paddy in lieu of extra expenses for this purpose.
13. Marginal relief of not imposing interest over interest given to other loanees should primarily be given to farmers.

There are a total of 23 Kisan Unions involved in these protests which are non-political and belong from Punjab. These are: 

  1. Krantikari Kisan Union
  2. Bharatiya Kisan Sabha Dakaunda
  3. Kisan Sangharsh Committee
  4. Azad Kisan Sangharsh Committee
  5. Jai Kisan Andolan
  6. Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee
  7. Kisan Sangharsh Committee
  8. Bharatiya Kisan Union Tkta Ugraha
  9. Bharatiya Kisan Union Krantipari
  10. Bharatiya Kisan Union Sidhupur
  11. Bharatiya Kisan Union Kadian
  12. Bharatiya Kisan Union Rajewal
  13. Bharatiya Kisan Union Doaba
  14. Bharatiya Kisan Union Mansa
  15. Majha Kisan Committee
  16. Indian Farmers’ Association
  17. Lok Bhalai Insaaf Welfare Society
  18. Doaba Kisan Samiti
  19. Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee
  20. Ganna Sangharsh Committee
  21. Azad Kisan Committee
  22. Kisan Bachao Morcha
  23. Bharat Kisan Union

There are 8 Associations in the protests which are politically affiliated and from Punjab. These are : 

  1. Kul Hind Kisan Federation (MCPI)
  2. Jamhuri Kisan Sabha (Revolutionary Marxist Party)
  3. All India Kisan Sabha (CPI-M)
  4. Kirti Kisan Union (CPI-ML)
  5. Punjab Kisan Union (CPI-ML)
  6. Kul Hind Kisan Sabha (CPI)
  7. Bharatiya Kisan Manch (Akali Dal)
  8. Bharatiya Kisan Union Lakhowal (Akali Dal)

There are 4 associations from Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. These are:

  1. Bharatiya Kisan Union Tikait
  2. Bharatiya Kisan Union Chaduni (AAP)
  3. Bharatiya Kisan Union Mann (Congress)
  4. Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh

Therefore, there are 31 farmers’ unions out of 35 in these protests, who are representing the whole nations’ farmers. So, the first question arises that if Punjab’s farmers have so much problem with the farm bills then Punjab has the right to not notify the laws in their state. Punjab CM has already passed the laws to nullify the effect of those 3 farm bills. Then why so much of hullabaloo? 

Now let’s focus on the new set of demands by the farmers’ unions. Almost all the demands are for the security of farmers and they have the constitutional right to ask for it but there are 2-3 such demands which can’t be fulfilled. The first is: To repeal the commission on Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020. Stubble burning is one such problem that makes Delhi and surrounding areas, a gas chamber, and many intellectuals beat their brains on Twitter, run a campaign on pollution in Diwali. But now when the government wants to solve the issue after the SC advisory, the Kisan Unions wants it to repeal!

The second surprising demand of the farmer unions is to release the arrested pro-democracy intellectuals and anti-CAA activists, poets, farmers’ leaders, and student activists. Now which anti-CAA activists and student activists do they want the government to release? Umar Khalid or Sharjil Imam, who have been charged with UAPA? Do they want to release Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, and Gautam Navlakha, who have been arrested for suspected Maoists links? Even SC has turned their plea for bail due to ample evidence in hand with the authorities.  

The government yesterday admitted all the demands of the farmers and agreed on to do the amendments.

Yesterday, the farmer unions did a press conference and have put forth the following points.

  1. We reject the government proposal and reiterate the demand for repealing the laws.
  2. We will boycott Reliance business establishments and products including Jio Sim.
  3. Gherao of District headquarters across India on the 14th of December.
  4. Protests will continue.
  5. Agitation on 14th December 2020 across India.
  6. Jaipur-Delhi Highway will be blocked either before the 12th of December or on the 12th of December.
  7. Gherao and boycott of homes of BJP leaders.
  8. India will be made Toll mukt on the 12th of Dec.

The basic question that must be asked from the farmer unions is – Why boycott of only Reliance? You were against the privatization and private companies then why only Ambani? You must also boycott all the private companies who have involved in contract farming with the farmers of Punjab to grow potatoes to make chips. Why this hypocrisy?

Therefore, it can be clearly states that these farmer unions have put the real demands of farmers on mute and put forth their own agendas. Khalistani voices can be clearly heard.

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Ritwik Mehta
Ritwik Mehta
I am a policy research analyst with having a deep interest in economics. I am a freelance digital marketer and a data science enthusiast.
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