Panjab farmers dig their heels in farm law protest 

Emerging with their trailers, trucks, lorries and sheer determination, they are protesting three recently passed federal laws relating to trading and pricing of agricultural products, deemed detrimental to the farmers from Panjab and the other states.

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Panjab farmers and their supporters at the Shumbu border – Photo: Harpreet Singh / Asia Samachar
By Asia Samachar Team | INDIA |

Panjab farmers entered into the fourth day of protests, with more joining the thousands who had already descended upon the borders of New Delhi.

Emerging with their trailers, trucks, lorries and sheer determination, they are protesting three recently passed federal laws relating to trading and pricing of agricultural products, deemed detrimental to the farmers from Panjab and the other states.

After attempts to stop their advance failed – the authorities had thrown bolders on the road and instituted other measures to stop the advance of the farmers to New Delhi – now it seems negotiations are also not making any headway.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had on Saturday appealed to the farmers to shift to the Sant Nirankari ground in Burari that was offered to them for peaceful protests and said the Centre was ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.

However, the farmers have rejected the offer, deciding to stay put at the Delhi borders, with a huge number also flooding the Singhu and Tikri borders.

“We have decided that we will stay put at the Delhi borders. We will not go to Burari,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill told The Tribune in a telephone conversation.

What is the issue?

In June 2020, the Government had introduced to Parliament three ordinances in the name of agricultural marketing reforms. They were Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; and, Ess­en­tial Commodities (Amendment) Ordi­nance, 2020. The bills were passed into law despite vehement opposition.

The farming policy of the present government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as articulated through the new laws constitutes a watershed moment in reflecting this government’s agenda in favour of deepening the entry of agrobusiness capitalism and that of increased centralised control of agriculture in India, argued economist Prof Pritam Singh who is now a visiting scholar at University of Oxford. See here.

Haryana farmers clearing the road for on-coming Panjab farmers headed for the protests at New Delhi – Photo: Gurpreet Kotli

Pritam argued that the opposition to these bills has emerged from three quarters: first, from the farmers’ organisations, fearful about the survival of farming communities as a result of agrobusiness corporations’ takeover of the farming sector; second, from state governments, fearful about increasing central intrusion into states’ federal rights over agriculture; and third, from regional parties, fearful about these bills further empowering the several aggressive centralist attacks of this government on regional identities and aspirations.

On his part, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not seem to be in any mood to give in to the protestors. In his monthly address today (Nov 29), he said that the ‘reforms had opened doors to new possibilities’.

“These reforms have not only removed many restrictions for farmers, but have given them new rights, and new opportunities,” he said.

Preparing langgar for Panjab farmers and their supporters at the Shumbu border – Photo: Harpreet Singh / Asia Samachar

 

RELATED STORY:

Letter: Violent Crackdown on Punjab Protests in India (Asia Samachar, 29 Nov 2020)

BJP’s farming policies: Deepening India’s agrobusiness capitalism and centralisation (Asia Samachar, 18 Oct 2020)

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