In the News
One Year of Farmers’ Encampments in India
An Ocean of Humanity Speaks Its Mind
Farmers and their families — an ocean of humanity — came to the Morchas (encampments) on November 26 with their tractors and trolleys to mark one year of their Morchas, which have become their universities, their mass democracy, and represent their determination to carry on their struggle and strengthen their unity. Men, women, children, workers, teachers, students, artists, singers, Nihangs (warriors), Kabbadi players, and poets, all joined in and expressed their resolve to continue their struggle for a life of justice and dignity.
A young poet, a descendant of Bhai Mardana, the lifelong companion of Guru Nanak, sang passionately about the obstructions and barricades erected by the Narendra Modi Government that have been smashed by the farmers. A moving tribute was paid to the more than 700 farmers who have died at the Morchas, Lakhimpur Kheri and other places in this fight. They also talked about the necessary discipline and organization that they have developed during the past year to push their struggle forward. A young woman farmer said that Modi used to boast about his 56 inch chest, but the farmers have reduced it to 26 inches. Many women, men and youth as well as children recalled the history of struggles over the centuries against Delhi.
Non Resident Indians across the globe and their friends are also celebrating one year of struggle and the success of the farmers and their allies. All over the world Non Resident Indians have raised the flags of the farmers outside their homes, in their windows and in other capitals. Thousands of people in many countries have joined farmers in India.
On November 24, Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet approved the decision to repeal the three anti-farmer laws and announced that a bill will be brought in the next session of parliament that starts on November 29. However, the government did not say anything about the Minimum Support Price, a key demand of the farmers for a law that provides a minimum price guarantee.
A massive Mahapanchayat (mass meeting) was organized by farmers in Lucknow on November 22. Farmers from all across India came to celebrate their success but said that their struggle will continue until all their demands are met. Speaker after speaker pointed out that this prime minister is in the habit of making announcements and not following up with actions, some saying he has earned the nickname Ghoshna Mantri (announcement minister). Until our demands are met — signed and sealed — we will continue our struggle, the farmers said. Many other speakers pointed out the hypocrisy of Modi’s address to the nation in which he announced the repeal of the three anti-farmer laws.
The farmers’ organization Samyukt Kisan Morcha wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Modi on November 21 reiterating their demands:
“Prime Minister, you are well aware that repeal of the three black laws is not the only demand of this movement. From the very beginning of the talks with the government, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has raised three additional demands:
“1. Minimum Support Price based on the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50%) should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce, so that every farmer of the country can be guaranteed at least the MSP announced by the government for their entire crop. (The Committee formed under your Chairpersonship had made this recommendation to the then Prime Minister in 2011 and your government had also announced about this in the Parliament).
“2. Withdraw the draft “Electricity Amendments Bill, 2020/2021” proposed by the government (During the talks, the government had promised that it would be withdrawn, but then, in a breach of promise, it was included in the Parliament’s agenda).
“3. Remove the penal provisions on farmers in the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021’ (This year, the government removed some anti-farmer provisions but again through section 15, possibility for penal action against farmers has been brought back).
“The farmers have been disappointed due to lack of concrete announcement on these important demands in your address. The farmers had hoped that through this historic movement, not only would the three laws be averted, but they would also get a legal guarantee of remunerative MSP for their hard work.
“Prime Minister, during this historic movement in the last one year, some other issues have also arisen which need to be resolved immediately:
“4. Thousands of farmers have been implicated in hundreds of cases during this movement (June 2020 till date) in Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and several other states. These cases should be withdrawn immediately.
“5. Ajay Mishra Teni, the mastermind of Lakhimpur Kheri murder case and accused of section 120B, is still roaming freely and remains a Minister in your cabinet. He is also sharing the stage with you and other senior ministers. He should be sacked and arrested.
“6. During this movement, so far about 700 farmers have given their lives to the cause, as their supreme sacrifice. There should be compensation and rehabilitation support for their families. To build a martyrs’ memorial in the memory of the martyr farmers, land should be given at Singhu Border.
“Prime Minister, you have appealed to the farmers that now we should go back home. We want to assure you that we are not fond of sitting on the streets. We too desire that after resolving these other issues as soon as possible, we return to our homes, families and farming. If you want the same, then the government should immediately resume talks with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on the above six issues. Till then, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha will continue this movement.”
Many farmers compared this letter to Prime Minister Modi to the one written by Guru Gobind Singh to Aurangzeb, called Zafarnama, an epistle of victory in which he described the treachery and oppression of Aurangzeb and his resolve to fight it.
(Photos and graphics: Tractor2twitr, @MST_Oficial, Uniterre, M. Correggia)