As the three anti-farmer laws are expected to be repealed formally at the Parliament tomorrow, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has noted that they have given adequate time for the government to resume the negotiations with the farmer leaders while also pointing out that the statements made by the agricultural minister are incorrect. On the other hand, the support for the farmers’ movements continues as thousands of people join in to participate in the historic Shetkari Kamgar Mahapanchayat in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan while many events are being organized globally to mark the completion of one year of the long-fought farmers’ movement.
Thousands Participate in Historic Shetkari Kamgar Mahapanchayat in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan
A massive Shetkari Kamgar Mahapanchayat took place in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan today, with at least 100 organizations coming together for the same. Peasants, workers, agricultural laborers, women, youth, and students of all religions and castes from all over Maharashtra thronged this Mahapanchayat. Several SKM leaders took part in the event today. It celebrated the historic victory over the BJP-RSS government of the year-long farmers’ struggle in getting the Farm Laws repealed, and also declared its determination to fight for the remaining demands. The remaining demands include a central law to guarantee a just MSP and procurement, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill, removal from the Cabinet and arrest of the butcher of Lakhimpur Kheri Ajay Mishra Teni, repeal of the four Labour Codes, an end to selling off the country through privatization, halving the price of diesel, petrol, cooking gas and other essential commodities, doubling the days of work and wages under MNREGA and extending it to the urban areas. The Shaheed Kalash Yatra of the Lakhimpur Kheri martyrs, which began from Pune on October 27, traversed over 30 districts of Maharashtra in the last month. Today morning, the Shaheed Kalash Yatra visited Hutatma Chowk, which commemorates the 106 martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra Struggle in the 1950s. After this, the ashes of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre martyrs were immersed in the Arabian Sea off the Gateway of India in a special program at around 4 pm, just after the Mahapanchayat at Azad Maidan.
Farm to be Repealed Tomorrow in Parliament and Agriculture Minister’s Incorrect Media Statements
Union Minister Mr. Narendra Singh’s media comments are not correct or adequate responses that are acceptable to the protesting farmers. He is incorrect and unreasonable in saying that with the constitution of the PM-announced Committee, “farmers’ demand on MSP stands fulfilled”. It is patently unjustified and illogical to claim that a Committee “to deliberate on the issues of crop diversification, zero-budget farming, and making the MSP system more transparent and effective” is about the fulfillment of farmers’ demand on MSP! Mr. Tomar is also wrong in claiming that the “Centre has also accepted the unions’ demand for decriminalizing stubble burning by farmers”. As pointed out by SKM, “The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021” continues to have a new Sec.15 called Environmental Compensation which states that the “Commission may impose and collect environmental compensation from farmers causing air pollution by stubble burning, at such rate and in such manner, as may be prescribed”, even though it is not called “Penalties (https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2021/228982.pdf).
The Agriculture Minister was also silent on the Electricity Amendments Bill 2021, which is now listed for the Parliament’s Winter Session starting from tomorrow. Importantly, Mr Tomar said that withdrawal of cases filed against farmers and also compensation to the martyrs of the movement are matters of state governments and that they will decide on these matters. Punjab already has commitments on both these issues. Given that all the other states are BJP-ruled states, and given that the agitation arose due to the anti-farmer measures of the BJP-ruled Government of India, it is important that the commitment has to come with the Union Government, which has to ensure that BJP-ruled states comply with the commitment. The Minister was also silent on the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre-related demand from SKM, for Ajay Mishra Teni’s arrest and dismissal. Modi Government’s immoral defense of the Minister is condemned once again by SKM. At least 686 farmers sacrificed their lives for getting the demands of the farmers’ agitation fulfilled so far over the past 12 months. It is estimated by Haryana farmer leaders that around 48000 farmers have been implicated in numerous police cases for peaceful protests in the past year. Several face serious charges like sedition and attempt to murder, rioting, etc. In Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh too, cases have been filed against farmers as part of this struggle. In Punjab, the Chief Minister Mr. Charanjit Singh Channi had announced that his government will withdraw all cases filed so far.
Against this background, SKM also points out that without resumption of dialogue with farmers, Union Government cannot hope to end the farmers’ protests in undemocratic, unilateral ways.
While the Government of India ungraciously gives in to one of the key demands of protesting farmers with this Repeal Bill, tomorrow will be a historic day. Tomorrow, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar is slated to introduce and put up for consideration and pass ‘The Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021′. This is one Bill to repeal the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and to amend the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. It is worth noting that Bill number 143 of 2021 which seeks to recall the laws made in 2020 that led to huge historic protests by farmers of India, in its Statement of Objects and Reasons continues to defend the laws stoutly and mentions that only a group of farmers are protesting against these laws. It links the repeal to Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, with the ‘need of the hour being to take everyone together on the path of inclusive growth and development’.
Protests across the country in solidarity with Farmers’ Protest
Protests are taking place in different places around the globe, in support of India’s farmers’ struggle. After the protest at the Indian High Commission in London, there was a protest in the USA in Manitoba in Winnipeg yesterday. Italian and French farm groups have expressed their solidarity with protesting Indian farmers. There was a sleepout in Surrey, British Columbia of Canada.
Every day, more stories are emerging about the extra-ordinarily-gritty and determined protestors who fuelled the farmers’ agitation and made it unprecedented. 25-year old Ratandeep Singh from Ludhiana in Punjab reached Singhu Border on November 26th, to mark the first anniversary – he is completely wheelchair-bound. There are several protestors who have spent the entire year in the past at the morchas. 86-year old Nishtar Singh Grewal from Ludhiana is one of them. 70-year old Gurdev Singh and 63-year old Sadhu Singh Kacharwal have also spent all the past 365 days at Singhu Border.
Yesterday, in Haryana, there was a protest against a JJP MLA. MLA Devendar Singh Babli canceled his program in Ratia when a large group of farmers assembled for a black flag protest as soon as they received information about his participation in a local event.
Today is the death anniversary of great social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, and SKM pays rich homage to him.
As announced yesterday after a meeting, Samyukt Kisan Morcha has decided to wait for the Government of India to respond formally and fully to all the demands raised by it in its letter to the Prime Minister of India on November 21st, 2021. SKM decided to give more time to the Modi Government by suspending the planned Tractor March to Sansad from November 29th. Protesting farmers will take a decision on further action, in the next meeting fixed on December 4th of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.