Is Anyone Listening - Farmers of India


Farmers were met with water cannons on their way to New Delhi.

The farmers rage against the new agriculture bill has been seething since September, but has aggravated in the last few days as thousands of them hailing from all regions of the wheat belt area are marching towards the capital as we speak, demanding the withdrawal of the new legislations or introduction of new law ensuring them Minimum Selling Price (MSP) for the crops produced.

The core of agitation lies in the new farm bill introduced by the center. The government believes the new reforms will open up new avenues for the farmers and will enable the have more choices if they sell their produce solely via APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee), which is contradictory to the farmers belief that it will lead to their marginalization and will allow the corporate giants to gain strong foothold in the agriculture sector which is dominated largely by farmers.

The farmers fear this commercialisation will force them to sell their produce below MSP,

generating less income, which can affect their well being adversely as they wont be able to sell their crops in neighboring states due to lack of resources because of their inability to bear transportation costs. According to farmers these factors completely render the act futile, which will only add to their miseries. The government seems to stand on the other side of the pole and its ignorance on the issue has led to escalation of dispute.

The government has reacted to the ongoing farmers' protests the way it reacts to any kind of dissent- by standing in the way of their fundamental rights. Police have generously used tear gas, water cannons and their batons to break the spirits of the marching farmers, and to prevent them from convening at Delhi. On the other hand, followers of the ruling party were quick to denounce the protests on Twitter, variously declaring them to be ploys by the Opposition and 'Khalistanis' to undermine the government's legitimacy.

A viral video on social media showed a young protestor, Navdeep Singh, jumping atop one of the water cannons that were being targeted at farmers moving to Delhi from Ambala, and turning it on to the direction of the police. He, along with his father have now been booked for attempt to murder. Police and other law-enforcement authorities have been accused of using violence against poor farmers. One of them in which a policeman can be seen aiming his baton at a protesting farmer is become viral, and is being shared by many to show the level of atrocities against farmers. Several other videos and pictures have crashed the internet, gathering support from not only people in India but all around the world. Jagmeet Singh, Canadian Member of Parliament shared his concerns over the issue in the recent sesion, asking his fellow members to support the indian farmers.

Currently, scores of farmers have rejected the offer made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to shift the protests to a designated site on the outskirts of the national capital and have stayed put on their demand to protest at Ramlila Ground or Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Indian Express reported. However, four days of unprecedented protests has forced Shah to state that the government is ready to deliberate on the problems and demands of the farmers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi, in his monthly radio show Mann Ki Baat said that the new

farm laws passed by the Center has "opened new doors of possibilities for our farmers".How open these doors are, that is yet to be seen.


Shrey Madaan | Sanjukta Bose

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