Farmers of All Hues Unite To Protest In Creative, Colourful And Even Macabre Ways

Raman Swamy

Taking the kisan agitation to the next level, more than 60 farmers organisations have given a joint call for an all-India strike on Friday, June 16. 

For three hours on Friday, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., the entire network of National Highways across the country, stretching more than 70,000 kilometres, will be blocked. 

In addition, State highways measuring 1,54,500 kilometres,  and another 5,00,000 kilometres of district roads, rural roads and other major arteries may also be closed for traffic.  

The aim of the unprecedented nationwide protest is to drive home the main demand of the farmers – that government polices and price mechanisms must ensure that agriculture becomes a viable occupation for tillers of the soil.

The very fact that more than 140 farm leaders, who have been meeting in Delhi to formulate a joint action plan, have been able to put their heads together and come out with a simple and direct strategy to voice a one-point demand unanimously,  is both remarkable and historic.

The reality is that the 62 kisan organisations they represent are as different, disparate and diverse as the colours in a rainbow, in terms of problems, needs, geographic and climatic challenges, economic status and political ideologies and affiliations.

In spite of this such a large number of sanghatans, sanghs, associations and activist groups have succeeded in forging a multi-hued rainbow coalition of truly gigantic proportions in pursuit of a single common cause – and in search of the proverbial pot of gold, which in this case is nothing more than a fair deal, a level playing field and a decent livelihood.

June 16 will show if the rainbow coalition of farmers is an illusion or a reality. 

The next test of unity, solidarity and co-ordinated endeavour will come just a week later, on June 21.   This is the day which the central government has official declared as Yoga Day.  

The farm leaders have all concurred to observe this day as another moment of protest.  However, it has been left to each of the individual groups and sanghatans to devise their own modes of expressing themselves – the only condition being that it should be peaceful and non-violent. 

Some, but not all, have come up with a novel and creative idea, although there are those who may consider it somewhat morbid, melancholy and even mocking.  

The plan is to participate in Yoga Day but with a different approach.  For one hour on June 21, farmers will perform yoga.  However, they will adopt only one pose, the shava-asana pose. 

Guidelines have been distributed to those ready and willing to carry out the shava-asana yoga to do so not within their dwellings or in their fields but on key transport arteries -- railway stations, rail tracks, public roads and crossroads or at bus stops.  The intention is to perform yoga out in the open in a manner which is visible to the public and also disrupts traffic in a peaceful and non-violent manner.

Jun 18, 2017

 Raman Swamy [email protected]

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