Today is the third day of the farmers’ agitation. A large number of farmers have reached the Nirankari maidan in Delhi’s Burari while some farmers are still camped on the Haryana-Delhi border. What are then the demands of these farmers?
Photo: Amit Pandey/Gaon Connection
The farmers’ agitation against the centre’s agricultural laws rages on for the third day today. On the second day, November 27, thousands of farmers reached Delhi via Haryana despite the hurdles. The Haryana and Delhi police lobbed tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the protesting farmers at several places, and finally allowed them to enter the capital and stage their protest at the Nirankari maidan in Burari, north Delhi. However, several farmers are still camped at Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border.
For two months, farmers have been vociferously protesting the Centre’s three new agricultural laws and their Dilli Chalo march began on November 26. On the second day, the police deployed force to dissuade them from marching ahead, but the farmers did not relent and carried on with the agitation on November 28, pitching camps at several parts of the country’s capital, New Delhi.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government will hold a dialogue with the farmers on December 3.
What exactly are the farmers agitating against? Is it only to repeal the three agricultural laws, or is there more? What are their demands?
The prime demand of the agitating farmers is for the central government to withdraw the three agricultural laws. Abhimanyu Kohaar, the national spokesperson of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which has been convened for the purpose of the farmers’ protest, pointed out to Gaon Connection that the new agricultural laws were against the interest of the farmers and would only promote privatisation and hoarding. He stated that only the big private companies would benefit from the laws and that the future of farmers would be in jeopardy.
Ever since the government introduced the agriculture bills, the farmers have looked upon them as a serious threat to the existing minimum support price system (MSP). Thirty nine per cent of the farmers, surveyed recently across 16 states by Gaon Connection, shared this fear. Fifty nine per cent of the surveyed farmers called for a law to make MSP mandatory. One of their biggest demands was a written assurance by the government guaranteeing the continuance of the MSP and traditional food grain procurement system for the central pool in future.
The farmers are also demanding that the government abolish the electricity amendment bill. Farmers’ organisations fear that once enforced, the bill would stop free or subsidised electricity to the farmers. They say that the bill supports privatisation and would stop free electricity to farmers in Punjab.
The farmers want a revoking of the government’s decision of a five-year imprisonment for stubble burning. The central government had introduced a new ordinance to curb air pollution in October this year, and has imposed a prison sentence of five years or a fine of one crore rupees for stubble burning. The farmers are demanding that this be revoked, and want the the farmers who have already been arrested on charges of stubble burning, to be released.
The farmers of western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are agitated over sugarcane payments. The farmers, particularly in Uttar Pradesh are accusing the sugar industry of pressurising the state government against increasing the sugarcane price under the pretext of poor recovery, whereas the cane price should be increased in view of the ever-increasing cost.
The farmers’ organisations of Uttar Pradesh are demanding the price of cane be raised to Rs. 450 per quintal. In the last two crushing seasons it has been Rs. 315 and 325 a quintal. The president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, Meerut District, Manoj Tyagi, pointed out that there has been no increase in cane price in the last two crushing seasons, whereas the cost of electricity, diesel, pesticides, fertilizers and labour have increased and pushed up the cost of sugarcane production.