Farmers from across the country will come out on the streets on September 25 to protest against the three new agricultural bills that are set to sell the country’s agricultural sector and food security to corporate interests. This is the first time that all the major farmer’s organizations across the country have come together to protest against these three bills. Farmers organizations have called for strikes, chakka jams, and protest marches against the bills.
In the midst of the pandemic and while the country was under lockdown, the government passed three ordinances relating to the Agriculture sector. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
These ordinances have been introduced in the parliament in spite of nation-wide protests by farmers, strong opposition in the parliament, and notably the resignation of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaul Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a long-standing ally of the BJP.
The ordinances and now the Agriculture bills have been criticised for being anti-farmer and pro-agricultural business. Farmers have raised the issue of the lack of guarantee of MSP, the destruction of the mandi ecosystem, disadvantage of the small and marginal farmer in an open-market, exploitation under contract farming, and the issue of hoarding.
In addition to the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, a platform of 250 farmers’ organisations, other farmer’s organisations such as the Bhartiya Kisan Union have also announced strikes and chakka jams on September 25. All the 31 peasant organizations in Punjab, and other unions in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have also announced their participation.
Farmers’ groups in West Bengal have announced a chakka jam, and organizations in Bihar have organized chakka jam and protest marches. Farmers unions in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Assam, Tripura, etc will also participate.
The farmer’s protests have been supported by the CPI(M) and central trade unions. RSS-affiliated farmers groups will not join the protests, though they have also demanded amendments to provide a legal guarantee to MSP. The Aam Aadmi Party has announced its support for the strike on September 25.
Protests against the agriculture bills have been going on across the country already and will continue for the rest of the week as well.