India’s farmers step up protests after 7th round of failed talks

NEW DELHI: After 40 days of peaceful, non-violent satyagraha and seven rounds of failed talks, the farmers plan to finally organise the twice-rescheduled tractor rally on the KMP (Western Periphery) Expressway as practice for the ‘parade’. On January 23 — the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose — farmers across the country will march to their respective Raj Bhavans since the governors represent the Central government in the states.

Though the Modi government has been inviting the farmers to the table to discuss their problems, it remains obstinate not to accept their pleas. So far, seven rounds of talks have been held, but shockingly, the government has not shown any eagerness to find a solution.

The failure of the seventh round of talks held on January 4 did not come as a surprise. It was along expected lines; Modi government would not agree to the proposition to repeal the contentious laws. This has been the part of the strategy to frustrate, exhaust and break the farmers’ morale. Once they are exasperated, they will abandon their agitation and go back to their villages, the govt seems to feel.

Though the Agriculture Minister announced that the 8th round of discussion will take place on January 8, going by the mood and posture of PM Narendra Modi, it can safely be said that it would also prove to a futile exercise. The government is trying to engage the farmer leaders in psychological war and is using all kind of intrigue to enervate them.

The farmers’ leaders have also made it absolutely clear that “we will not agree to any alternatives”. It is indeed shocking that the Modi government is pushing its own people to the wall and forcing them to resort to a protracted struggle. While the Modi government has been maintaining the façade of engaging the farmers in dialogue, farmers’ organisation All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has accused that the police in Haryana was resorting to violent action against them.

Meanwhile, thirty-five students of Panjab University have written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde and other judges of the Supreme Court seeking an inquiry into alleged police atrocities on the farmers protesting at Delhi borders against the three farm laws. In the open letter, the students of the Centre for Human Rights and Duties of the university have alleged that there has been “illegitimate use of water cannons, tear gas shells and lathis on peaceful protesting farmers” by police authorities which needs to be probed.

The Modi government seems determined not to accede to the farmers’ demands of not allowing unregulated private ‘markets’ in competition with APMCs;  or opposed to giving a legal guarantee for MSP. By not stopping corporates’ entry into purchase of and trade in agricultural produce, the farmers’ are left with no other alternative but to continue to struggle. This is perhaps for the first time that Independent India has been witnessing this nature of complete non-violent, peaceful protests during which 57 innocent farmers have passed away at the protest site.

 

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