March to Delhi Again

M N Ravunni and Shantol

In 2022, the farmers' strike that lasted for a year inspired and motivated toilers across the country.

Accepting the demands raised by the farmers, the government finally made an official announcement:
1)    It would roll back the three farm laws which, in the final analysis, were detrimental to the interest of the country itself.
2)    The minimum support price [MSP] recommended by the M S Swaminathan Commission will be implemented.
3)    Strike-related cases will be withdrawn.
4)    Decent compensation will be given to the families of those killed during the strike.
5)    Agricultural debts will be written off.
6)    Reduction in electricity bills will be effected.

These were the main demands that the Modi government promised to implement. Prime Minister Modi himself publicly apologised to the nation about his government's stance towards farmers. Now Modi is completing the second term and quite naturally, at least in this parliament, farmers' government is over. The last parliamentary session ended shouting"JaiSriram" and dispersed. They hardly bothered about making any statement regarding the unaddressed issues of the farmers.

Farmers’ organisations had expected a declaration on the assurances given to them. It did not happen. Farmers realised that they were cheated as usual. Forced into desperation they ultimately took to the streets.

They have started marching again to Delhi with protest slogans and a legitimate demand for the fulfilment of the promises made to them.

For one thing 600 farmers had to give their lives. They are martyrs of the historic peasant movement. India is the second largest agricultural country. And the hard fact is that it is these deceived farmers who are producing food grains Modi needed badly to keep his programme of free ration to 80 crore people. At the same time, it is the Indian farmers who continue to be neglected. According to conservative estimates of the 9 years of Modi government 2 lakh farmers have committed suicide. In other words this means an average of 30 farmers a day. And yet they boast of running the world’s fifth largest economy.

Now the central government is taking a hostile attitude towards these farmers who are "food providers". The government has made war-like preparations to prevent protestors from Punjab, UP and Haryana from entering Delhi and terrorise agitating farmers who have come only to voice their grievances. In UP and Haryana, they raid farmers' houses and arrest them indiscriminately. In and around Delhi, Haryana and UP Sec. 144 has been imposed. Internet connectivity has been suspended in the region. Roads to Delhi are barricaded with concrete blocks topped with coils of barbed wire. Moreover, the roads are blocked with nails and huge spikes are scattered to stop the farmers’ march! Experiments have also begun to tear- gas protestors using unmanned aerial vehicles. There are reports of water cannons being fired at some places. State police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in large numbers. Almost a battlefield scenario!

There are farmers who are still in jail due to the non-withdrawal of cases against them. At the same time, a Union Minister's son, who killed the farmers by driving his car into the protestors, is happily out on bail.

When the Centre declares war on farmers, PM Modi, who has not even laid a single foundation stone of a productive government institution in 9 years, was busy in inaugurating a Hindu temple in UAE.

Images have started coming of farmers driving up in their vehicles and pulling down barricades, defying the cowardly moves of the Modi government.

[M N Ravunni is Chairperson and Shantol is General Convener of PORATTOM General Council, Keralam]

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Vol 56, No. 36, Mar 3 - 9, 2024