A group of farmers protesting the new agricultural legislations banged pots and utensils on Sunday during Narendra Modi’s “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme to express their discontent against the prime minister and his government, NDTV reported. The farmers said they did not wish to listen to a leader who was not willing to listen to them.

The demonstration took place in three areas – Singhu border, Faridkot in Punjab and Rohtak district of Haryana.

The call for the protest was given by Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav last Sunday. “On December 27, when the Prime Minister gives his Mann Ki Baat radio address, farmers will say ‘we are tired of listening to your Mann ki Baat, when will you listen to our Mann ki Baat?’” Yadav had said. “So we will bang utensils so that the noise of his Mann ki Baat doesn’t reach us.”

The idea of banging utensils and vessels was first floated by Modi in March, when he announced the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The prime minister had suggested that Indians should assemble at their windows or on their balconies and clap their hands, ring bells or beat on vessels to send a message of appreciation towards all the professionals – nurses, doctors, cleaners, transport workers, police personnel and others – who have been helping battle the contagion as it spread across the country.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, Modi spoke of self-reliance in the times of Covid-19 and India’s ability to end its dependence on foreign products. He also spoke about wildlife conservation, and lauded his government’s cleanliness drive. However, he did not mention the ongoing farmers’ agitation.

The prime minister also urged people to buy “unique” Kashmiri saffron, and asserted that the Centre wanted to make it a globally popular brand. “Saffron has been associated with Kashmir for centuries. Kashmiri saffron is mainly grown in places like Pulwama, Budgam and Kishtwar,” Modi said. “In May this year, the Kashmiri Saffron was given the Geographical Indication Tag or GI tag. Through this, we want to make Kashmiri Saffron a Globally Popular Brand.”

The geographical indication tag is given to certain products to specify their area of origin. In July, Kashmiri saffron received the tag, which put the Valley’s produce on the world map. In India, these tags are issued under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999. Kashmiri saffron was also launched in the UAE Food Security Summit this year. The Union Territory’s Principal Secretary of Agriculture Navin K Choudhary launched the produce, the prime minister said on Sunday.

Farm law protests

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for over a month. They fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.

The government maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. It has refused to repeal the legislations, but has offered to amend certain sections.

Several round of talks and negotiations have failed to resolve the crisis. The next round of talks will be held on December 29.