The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation leading the farmers protest has released a statement condemning the continuous arrest of environmental activists. The SKM has said that it “is deeply concerned and anguished about the brazen misuse of police power by the government in its efforts to weaken the ongoing farmers’ movement. It condemns the arrest of young environmental activist Disha Ravi without due procedures being followed. SKM demands her immediate unconditional release.”
SKM has also responded to several people accusing environmental activists of having ‘double standards’ for supporting farmers even though they burn stubble. They have said, “India’s young environmentalists do understand and appreciate that unviable farming leads to unsustainable farming too. It is unsurprising that farmers end up adopting desperate unsustainable practices to make ends meet, when their farming gets riskier due to increasingly adverse markets (due to unfair trade egged on by big corporations) and compounded by climate change. The three farm laws rammed down by the Centre do not guarantee remunerative markets for farmers and instead make the markets riskier for farmers, with greater vulnerability to exploitation. In such a situation, the possibility of farmers adopting unsustainable production practices is higher. It is this inter-linkage between viability and sustainability that activists like Disha Ravi have understood in their extension of support for the farmers’ protests.”
The farmers have also looked at legalization of MSP as a way to move away from monoculture farming. “The legitimate demand for legal guarantee of MSP for all crops will help farmers diversify from monocropping of paddy and wheat, and will pave way for a lasting solution to the straw burning problem linked to soil degradation, air pollution and resultant health risks for farming and urban communities. It is for such solutions that the environmental activists are striving for. It is therefore unsurprising that environmental activists are lending support to ongoing farmers’ movement, and only those who do not understand the issues involved here will feign surprise at why people like Disha Ravi are supporting the movement”, the statement reads.
Commemoration of Chotu Ram and Rail Roko Andolan
Tomorrow, on 16th February 2021, Samyukt Kisan Morcha has put out a call for commemorating the contributions of Sir Chhotu Ram for peasant consciousness cutting across religious lines. The Unionist Party that he set up brought in a law against usury in the 1930s, that protected peasants from the clutches of moneylenders and restored the right of land to the tiller of the land. Sir Chhotu Ram is also credited with the establishment of the mandi system in India, and it is this system that the present farmers’ movement seeks to protect and improve. On 16th February, SKM calls on all its constituents to organise meetings that explain the contributions of Sir Chhotu Ram and the need to further strengthen the ongoing movement, taking inspiration from exemplary people like him. On 18th February, SKM has given a call for a rail roko action all over India from 12pm to 4pm. This is expected to happen all over India.