Bhopal: As the standoff between the agitating farmers and the Union Government over the new Farm Laws continues, cultivators and members of tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh have also vowed to intensify their agitation.
After six rounds of talks between the Union Government and the agitated farmers failed, the farmers have threatened to block the Delhi-Jaipur national highway and will organise pan-India protests on December 14.
Dozens of farmers’ organisations and tribal groups have teamed up in the state in support of the protesting farmers. Organisations including the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), the Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, Kisan Kamgar Morcha, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Gondwana Mahasabha and several others have vowed to intensify the protest.
BKU activists, who are sitting on an indefinite sit-in protest in Bhopal, said they will follow in the footsteps of the All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and will declare their next course of action soon.
They claimed that owing to the number of good ‘muhurats’ for marriage ceremonies, the farmers, especially those from rural areas, will be busy till December 14.
“The farmers will reunite soon to intensify the ongoing agitation,” said Anil Yadav, state president of BKU, who is sitting on an indefinite agitation at Neelam Park in Bhopal. The protesting farmers claimed that they were being “provoked” time and again by State Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel.
Patel has irked the farmers after he told the media that they were happy and not against the new laws. “Minister Kamal Patel should come and debate with us on the ‘benefits’ of the newly-enacted laws; I’m sitting in the middle of the city,” Yadav thundered.
At 2 am on Wednesday, the Bhopal Police at 2 am on Wednesday detained Rahul Raj, the state president of Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, who was sitting on a dharna at Chuna Bhatti square in the city. Following his detention, the police forcefully removed the protesting farmers from the square. Yadav condemned the police action and said that it exposed the “true face of the government,” adding that it showed how the government “feels about us”.
The agitated cultivators and tribals demanded that the Union Government has to guarantee remunerative prices for farmers by making MSP a legal right for all farmers – those with and without land titles, landless labourers, etc.
They also pointed out that mandis were essential since they were originally established to prevent farmers from being exploited by traders. They added that despite the National Commission on Farmers’ recommendations to the state to establish at least 3,850 mandis in the state, there are merely 269 mandis and 298 sub-mandis. Thus, instead of strengthening the mandi system, the Government has framed laws which could spell the end for mandis.
Thousands of tribals from the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan gathered in the tribal-dominated Barwani district at the border of Gujarat and Maharastra in support of the country-wide movement against the Centre’s Farm Laws and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Adivasi farmers and labourers strongly opposed the laws, saying that instead of guaranteeing remunerative prices for their produce, the central government has worsened the crisis of debt-ridden small and marginal farmers. They said that the laws were a means to push farmers into the hands of international conglomerates and big businesses. “We will fight tooth and nail to resist such attempts raising slogans of 'Kheti karo pet ke liye, mat karo seth ke liye!' (Farm for your needs, not for big businesses),” said Walsingh Saste of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan.
They also demanded the withdrawal of the electricity Bill, which pitches for the privatisation of distribution companies.
Mahendra Singh Gurjar, president of Kisan Kamgar Morcha in Mandsaur said: “The move is to hand over electricity distribution companies to private entities, thus eliminating subsidies for the working population of the country. It would allow private corporations to extort exorbitant sums of money for providing electricity to people.”
Expressing concern over the ongoing farmers’ agitation, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former leader of Opposition of the State assembly, Ajay Singh, said that the Centre should come to terms with reality and immediately provide justice to the farmers.
Kamal Nath said that the BJP government at the Centre is “betraying” itself by blaming the opposition parties for fueling the farmers’ agitation.
“Traders are already buying paddy and makka at prices half of the MSP. It’s clear that the new laws would benefit only big traders, corporates and hoarders, and not farmers,” Singh added. “If the new laws are in the interest of farmers, why is it not being felt?” he asked.
He said that farmers were only demanding a guarantee that the MSP and mandi committee system would continue.“Why is nobody in the government ready to give a direct reply to their questions on the two issues? he asked.