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Farmers intensify agitation, plan consolidation

Our Bureau. New Delhi | Updated on December 15, 2020

A meeting of farrmers’ leaders in progress at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border in Ghazipur on Tuesday   -  Sandeep Saxena

Organisations on warpath say the govt has been condescending

The umbrella body of 500 farmers’ organisation coordinating the agitation against three farm laws on Tuesday announced plans for further consolidation with more participants from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and elsewhere joining in their blockade of Delhi.

Addressing the media here, office-bearers of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) associated with the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIKSS) said the government has failed to dislodge farmers blockading Delhi for 20 days and is trying “diversionary and divisive tactics” to divide them as opposed to solving the problem at hand.

‘Farmers not consulted’

They said farmers have been agitating for over two years on basic issues of farm income and procurement but the government pushed the three farm ordinances without hearing them out and now wants them to accept the same.

Ashok Dhawle of the AIKS, one of the organisers of the long march of farmers in Maharashtra between February and April, 2018 and his associate Hannan Mollah said the government unilaterally pushed the passage of the three laws that facilitate a framework of contract farming, private investment in agri-marketing and deregulated trading zones with no consultation with farmers who have been raising various structural issues for over two years. Dhawle and Mollah said the government has opened channels only after the agitation reached Delhi, and even then, the conversation has been casual and condescending.

“For months, we have been talking about farm income and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. But the government not consulted with us and pushed the three laws. They started engaging with us since September 30, after the laws had already been passed and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Narendra Singh Tomar called us for a meeting. They told us we should accept the laws. After we have come to Delhi, they call us; none of these meetings are held with a specific agenda. They just tell us to accept the laws. Agriculture Minister now says he is willing to have clause-by-clause discussion. The question is, when you could subsume 40 Labour Laws in one stroke, why can’t you withdraw three laws when you know that farmers do not accept them,” said Hannan Mollah.

‘Not distracted’

Dhawle said there is an effort from the government’s side to divide the farmers but it will not succeed since 500 farmers’ organisations are jointly conducting this campaign. Dhawle and Mollah said “extraneous” issues like someone raising slogans for release of Delhi riots accused or that the political parties are supporting the agitation.

“In a gathering, someone raises a slogan and it becomes an issue. We have also requested those raising slogans to have a separate platform and movement for their cause; this is a purely farmers’ agitation, and no one will hijack it. The point is, we want the government to engage on merits and tell us how dismantling the APMC system helps the farmer. They also need to tell us how much the industrialists and corporates have contributed to build inginfrastructure or build institutions. Or whether they want to leave the farmer to the vagaries of the market which has not happened anywhere else in the world. Just because we are farmers, they need not be condescending to us. We understand what is going on and not distracted,” said Mollah.

Published on December 15, 2020

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