New Delhi: Support is pouring in for protesting farmers, who are camping on the national capital’s borders demanding repeal of the three farm laws.
On Monday, trade unions and civil society groups held a solidarity march in Delhi’s ITO area, pledging solidarity with the agitating farmers. The march was attended by members of key central unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AITUC) among others.
Speaking with NewsClick, Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of AITUC said: “The Bills were rammed through Parliament, without any discussion with the stakeholders, despite pending issues. This was a complete humiliation of Parliament. Today, we are here to show our solidarity to this historic movement where we are fighting against our oppressors.”
Kaur added, “We are all the spokespersons of the movement, all central trade unions are standing firm with the movement and the protests of the farmers, we are here to say that all of their attempts at discrediting the movement will fail.”
Not just union members and workers, the protest saw a significant participation from working women. Annie Raja, General Secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said: “We need to understand that the laws are a grave danger to our food security, and will add to malnutrition in our country, as these will hand over our stocks of grains to bigger corporate firms. The government has worked in connivance with the big corporates which will force the farmers to go into absolute starvation, pushing our peasantry into unprecedented crisis.”
Maimoona Mollah from the All India Democratic Women’s Association said: “Workers and women, teachers are all with the farmers as these laws will not only impact the rural economy but all of us.”
Student and teachers’ organisations also took part in the solidarity march, represented by the groups including the Student’s Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Association (AISA), Krantikari Yuva Sangathan among others.
Placing it in the context of privatisation of the country’s natural resources, Nandita Narain, former president of the Delhi University Teachers Association and a professor Delhi University said: “The government’s intent is to take away the wealth of the country, to impoverish it and to hand it over to some individuals and their families. This is exactly like selling yourself out to the East India Company all over again.”
Farmer leaders, who staged a day-long hunger strike on Monday, said they were firm on their demand for repeal of the three agri laws.
Purushottam Sharma, national president of Akhil Bhariya Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) said: “This movement will not digress, neither will it break. We have pledged to not go back without the promise to ensure roll-back of the three farm laws,” adding that the movement was getting countrywide support.
He said the “attack by the government is unprecedented and the farmers have made this a fight not just about the laws but resistance against corporatisation.”
“The farmers will not go back, the number of farmers and their agitation will only increase and intensify,” Sharma said.
On Sunday, farmers blocked a significant part of the Delhi-Jaipur highway, on the 18th day of agitation with the central government remaining hopeful that the next round of talks could end the deadlock.
Thousands of farmers, are currently staying put at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the three “corporate-friendly” laws -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.