New Delhi, May 21, 2021: The farmers who are camped at Delhi’s borders – protesting against farm deregulation laws – shot off a letter to the Indian Prime Minister on Friday, demanding the immediate restart of talks with the umbrella body, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, to resolve the ongoing standoff.
Their demand before the government remains the same: scrap three farming deregulation that were laws passed last year.
The three farm bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill – were cleared by both the houses of the parliament while the Covid-19 pandemic was raging last year.
India’s farmers have refused to accept the laws as they see them as paving the way for powerful, profit-hungry corporates – domestic and foreign – to dictate food produce prices and terms.
It’s been a good six months now that thousands of farmers, upset over the 2020 farm laws and seeking their repeal, are protesting along Delhi’s borders.
They have not only braved wind and water, but even the frightful coronavirus, as they continue to camp outdoors surrounding Delhi.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the farmers wrote, “Mr. Prime Minister, this letter is to remind you that, as the head of the government of the largest democracy in the world, the onus of resuming a serious and sincere dialogue with the farmers lies with you.”
The letter adds, “This is to reiterate that we remain firm on our core demands: repeal of the three anti-people farm laws and legal guarantee for every farmer securing MSP (minimum support price) besides protecting farmers from the adverse impact of a proposed electricity (amendment) bill.”
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has repeatedly sought to resolve the issue through peaceful mass struggle, democratic solution and dialogue with the government.
During the first two months of the farmers’ protest, which began in November last year, the government held 11 rounds of talks with the protesters. Yet, the agriculture minister refused to scrap the laws.
Expressing their anguish over the government’s handling of the crisis, the farmers wrote, “The government failed to address the bare minimum demands of the protesting farmers. We need the democratic government to repeal the three laws rejected by the farmers, in whose name they were enacted. They should be provided legal guarantee of MSP for all farmers.”
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has categorically stated that they are determined to continue the protest, which has already become the longest and most peaceful protest that India has witnessed since its political independence.
The protesting farmers called on the government to focus its energy and resources to help victims of the Covid-19 pandemic that has now spread to rural areas as well.
They have sought the free treatment of Covid-19 patients, provide free ration, and livelihood support for all needy citizens, apart from also offering free vaccinations within the next six months.
The farmers have given an ultimatum to the PM, saying the ongoing protest movement will be intensified if the government fails to respond wisely.
“The annadatas (food deliverers) of the country are forced to remain on the streets for half a year,” the farmers lamented in the letter to their PM.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has decided to observe May 26 as ‘Black Flag Day’. It’s the day on which the protest at Delhi will complete six months.