Farmers in India closed down vast tracts of the country’s transport, retailers, and marketplaces as they intensified their protests against new agricultural legislation with the unveiling of a massive protest to invigorate the government to abolish new agricultural legislation that they say will depart them in inequality and to the salvation of enterprises. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, signed the Indian Farm Laws 2020, in September, claiming that they will restructure a primitive and overused system and give farmers more authority over their agricultural productivity. They believe that allowing giant firms to dominate the sector will stimulate land integration, cash flow in industrialization, and will build economies of scale that will eventually boost efficiency.
Rather than exporting their crops to the state at a minimum support price on local state-regulated platforms, farmers will now sell their crops through contracts to a much broader variety of private companies in the national sector. As a result, farmers’ wages will increase and food prices will plummet. Farmers, however, started to complain, saying that they had not been instructed beforehand and that their livelihoods were lost.
In more than a week, thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have hunkered down around the outskirts of Delhi, claiming that they will not commute until the three agricultural laws are abolished and that they are promised a minimum price for their crops. Last Friday’s dialogue between farmers and the state lasted seven hours but failed to bring a stopped to the deadlock.
On foot and in tractors, thousands of protesting farmers marched into New Delhi on Tuesday in what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration during the Indian Republic Day holidays and a military parade overseen by the Prime Minister.
How did the conflict burst out?
A lot of protesters turned away from the negotiated roads, and clashes with the police erupted out. Any protesters used their tractors to smash the barricades of the police. Many protesters brought long spears, tridents, sharp swords, and practical combat axes, if mainly ceremonial. Despite the Covid-19 outbreak in India, most protesters did not seem to wear masks. Police and military commanders have deployed personnel with assault rifles. They stood in the center of the major roads, tear gas flying around them and rifles fired at the protesters. In certain places, video evidence shows that the police battered the demonstrators with their batons to force them out. One activist was killed and more than 80 police officers were shot. Mobile Internet services were blocked in cities across India and several subway lines were closed as security forces tried to restore peace. The government is yet to comment on the violence, but sources say Home Minister Amit Shah has held a meeting with the Delhi Police to discuss the situation.
Farmers say that the conflict has been intensified by the government and outside forces in an attempt to undermine their months of peaceful agitation.
Farmers waved their banners and taunted police. They also broke the Red Fort, the legendary palace that once acted as the residence of the Mughal rulers of India, and pinned a flag that often flies over Sikh temples over the terrace. Local TV channels recorded farmers putting the protester’s body in the middle of the road. They believed the man had been wounded, but the police said he had died because his tractor had been flipped. Farmers’ protest is led by thousands of unions of all political views. “Keeping together for two months has been a wonder.
If you have a big follow-up, the following will tend to dominate the leadership,” says Mr. Singh. He thinks the protesters need to pipe down, maintain the goodwill of the majority of the farmers, call off another scheduled march to Delhi, meet the government midway, and consent to the revocation of the laws. It has now become an embarrassing stalemate for both the protesters and the authorities.
“Over the last 25 years, farmers have suffered, and the government has not taken care of us, even when so many commit suicides,” Malana said. “They have not equipped our crops with cold storage to keep them fresh, so often we have to sell our vegetables for 1 rupee. They haven’t given us enough water for our crops.”He said, “They haven’t been worried about us for years, and all of a sudden they come up with reforms that have nothing to do with supporting farmers and instead of serving large companies. These rules are suicide for all of us.”
Malana (Leader of Farmer Union)and other farmers also declared the strike a victory, after the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, decided to meet the representatives of the farmers at his residence at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
“There is no halfway point. We’re just calling for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the Home Secretary at today’s conference,” Rudra Singh Mansa, chief of the farmers, told reporters. Farmers are also expected to speak with the government on Wednesday to begin talks.
Few disputes that India needs continued reforms in the field of agricultural marketing and vital expenditure to ensure adequate and safe livelihoods for farmers. But the more important issue is what kind of funding, what kind of legislation and what kind of change Indian farmers are better supported by.In this case, the Farm Acts appears to be an attempt to centralize rather than change, more subject to the needs of large corporations than producers.
There is no question that the government’s stakes in the matter are high. They cannot, however, equal the importance and urgency of what is at stake for farmers. In such a case, it is extremely unhelpful, not to mention disrespectful, to ignore the problems posed by protesting against farmers as the worries of the fortunate few. In certain cases, repealing these laws could damage the nation; but the repeal will eventually allow the country to put Indian agriculture on a course that is sensitive to its problems and not to the partisan interests of the government. If India still needed a lesson on the value of democratic decision-making, this is reflected in the current situation. How the deadlock is resolved will have serious consequences not just for India’s agriculture and economy, but for India’s democracy itself and its upcoming elections.