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Use of force against peaceful protests

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on June 19, 2024 with No Comments

What are the farmers’ demands?

The farmers are demanding legal guarantees of a minimum support price (MSP), which acts as a safety net for the farming community; waivers of farm loans; and a rollback of policies they say hurt farmers.

The MSP, which is the cost at which the government purchases crops from farmers, provides farmers with an assured income for their produce amid market uncertainties. The demand is for the MSP to be fixed at least 50 percent higher than the cost of production of any crop. Farmers are agitating against the planned privatisation of the electricity sector. State governments currently provide subsidised electricity to farmers, which helps bring input costs down.

They are also demanding compensation for the farmers who died during the 2020-2021 protests. Another demand is the dismissal of a federal minister whose son was accused of running his car over farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district in October 2021.

The protests also seek to ensure that the promises made by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2021 are acted on.

 

 

 

 

Farmers are back on roads in India lodging a strong protest and standing tall against the Haryana police and other paramilitary forces  on the various borders of Punjab and Haryana. Thus, reviving the memories of thirteen months long struggle. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee are spearheading the protests. The organisers said more than 200 farm unions are participating in the March to Delhi.

The SKM played a key role in the 2020-2021 protests that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three farm laws that farmers feared would have benefitted corporations at their expense. Farmers have accused Modi’s government of failing to fulfill its promises to farmers since then, including doubling their incomes. Upping the ante in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the unions are exerting pressure on the Centre to accept their demands, which include the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for all crops. The protesters are also seeking the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and justice for victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which the son of a union minister ran his vehicle through the protesting farmers killing 10 of them.

The farmers restored to these steps when the leaders of the farm unions decided to take the struggle on the road after the talks with the team of Union ministers ended on an inconclusive note. The farmers are continuing their struggle despite the Haryana and Delhi police invoked section 144 of the CrPC, thus prohibiting the assembly of five or more people in the state of Haryana and National capital Region till March 12.

Aside from organisations from Punjab and Haryana, unions from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are also participating in the march as they demand government intervention to help the ailing agriculture sector, which is central to the country’s food security.

Haryana Police restored to tear gas shelling through drones as if it was a war going on with an enemy nation. The Haryana Police has become the first police force in India to use drones to launch tear gas devices.

Though on day one, the drones were able to cause injuries to over 100 farmers, on the day two, it turned out to be ineffective. As the farmers now came prepared with water tanks and fans to neutralise the tear gas shells. The young farmers were ingenious when they deployed kites to destroy the drone. They used “Manja” with that was exceptionally sharp.

Haryana received  a strong dissent from Punjab the use of a drone by Haryana to air-drop tear gas shells on agitating farmers in Punjab territory at the Shambhu border. Also, most of the firing was directed towards farmers who were stationed in Punjab.

The Haryana and the Centre government both under the control of BJP needs to know that staging a peaceful protest is a constitutional right of every citizen or group. In a democracy, this is a legitimate way for protesters to bring the government to the negotiating table. The year-long farmers’ agitation of 2020-21 was a watershed in India’s post-Independence history. Showing remarkable resilience and determination, the agitators had forced the Centre to repeal the three contentious farm laws.

Actions that the Haryana Government has restored to, should have been the last resort that too only if there was a violence. However, it decided to deploy forces as the very first step.

 

 

 

 

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