Farmers in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana on Monday staged protests against the Centre’s agriculture-related ordinances and demanded that they be withdrawn immediately.
They opposed the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, which have been tabled as bills for discussion during the Parliament’s Monsoon Session. The ordinances seek to include private players in agriculture and promote hurdle-free sale of produce, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance.
Hundreds of farmers in Punjab came out to the Amritsar-Delhi National Highway to protest, PTI reported. The protests were also held in Patiala, Barnala, Moga and Phagwara.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee President Darshan Pal said that the farmers will be left to the “mercy” of big corporates if the Centre passed the ordinances.
Kisan Sangharsh Committee General Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher said the farmers’ protests were also aimed at pressuring opposition parties to take action. “Our protest is not only to awaken the central government, but also to the opposition parties which should strongly oppose the three ordinances,” he told Hindustan Times.
Pandher added: “There are more than 200 MPs from the farming communities. They should also support the farmers’ concerns. If these ordinances are not revoked, we will not allow any MP or leader to enter the villages.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not go ahead with the ordinances in Parliament. Singh’s office said in a statement that the Centre did not discuss the ordinances with him and denied reports that Punjab supported them. On Wednesday, Singh is expected to hold a meeting with the governor to discuss the ordinances.
Protests in Telangana, UP
Several farmer’s unions, led by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, staged protests against the ordinances in Hyderabad, India Today reported. The unions referred to the ordinances as a “big blow” to the farming community.
The groups added that the proposed legislations were “corporate agriculture bills” which were framed to suit “big corporates who seek to dominate the Indian food and agriculture business”.
“It is farmers who feed the nation, including the political leaders,” Pasya Padma, a representative of the Telangana Rashtra Rythu Sangham, one of the protesting groups, told the news channel. “Today, the prime minister has forgotten the farmers and is at the service of big corporates. The farmers will not accept these three corporate agriculture bills. We are taking these issues to the farmers at village level.”
Farmers from Uttar Pradesh staged their protest at UP Gate in Ghaziabad, Outlook reported.
Meanwhile, farmers from Haryana said that they were stopped by the Delhi police while going to Jantar Mantar, The Hindu reported. “We were stopped at the Kundli border,” Rattan Mann, the president of the Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union told the newspaper. “We want the government to understand that these ordinances will not benefit the farming community. A legislation must be brought securing the Minimum Support Price of all crops including fruits and vegetables.”
Agriculture-related bills ‘black ordinances’, says Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the government over the bills, calling them a “fatal attack” on the farmers and “black ordinances”.
“Farmers are the only ones who buy and sell their produce in retail at wholesale prices,” he tweeted. “The three ‘black’ ordinances of the Modi government are a fatal attack on the peasant-agricultural laborers so that neither they get MSP nor rights. The farmers are forced to sell their land to the capitalists. Another anti-farmer conspiracy of Modi ji.”