Lucknow: Up in arms against the three agriculture-related Acts enacted by the Centre in September, several farmers outfits from Uttar Pradesh said that a large number of members of several farmer communities have come out in support of the proposed ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest call by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) — a body of more than 250 farmer organisations across the country. The farmers, mainly from Western UP, plan to reach the Capital on November 26-27 to put pressure on the Central government to scrap the contentious legislations.
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Farmers' organisations in Western Uttar Pradesh, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), are approaching villagers door to door to persuade them to join the Delhi protest and are also collecting rations in the Muzaffarnagar region. Farmers will proceed to Delhi on November 26, and said if they are stopped on their way, they would block highways leading up to the Capital. In the rest of UP, demonstrations are being planned at district headquarters, including Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Sonbhadra, Basti, Gonda, Unnao, Raebareli, Barabanki, Bahraich, Hardoi and Sitapur and State Assembly, the Mazdoor Kisan Manch informed NewsClick.
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"The Modi government must roll back all three newly passed agriculture-related Acts which is a mockery on Indian farmers. The BJP government is aiming at corporatisation of agriculture and making farmers more vulnerable," Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch, UP, told NewsClick, adding that apart from three laws, a legislation must be brought securing Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops (including fruits and vegetables). Crop purchased at less than MSP must be included in the category of punishable crime, he said.
Brij Bihari further said that: "Among other demands, agriculture work should be made part of the MGNREGA (rural job guarantee scheme) as there is no development work left at the village level. This will be a help not just for farmers but for migrant workers too. Governments may take a small percentage of share from farmers for letting MGNREGA workers in their farms. This step will create huge employment opportunities.”
According to Dharmendra Malik, state spokesperson of BKU, farmers of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, all factions of BKU, Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Inqalabi Naujawan Sabha, UP Workers Front and All India Peoples Front will also join the protest that will see active participation of farmers. He said the protests will conclude only after their demand to repeal the farm laws are met.
"If we were stopped from proceeding toward Delhi, we will stage indefinite protests en route. We will block entry points to Delhi from Western Uttar Pradesh," Malik told NewsClick adding that November 26 protest will be mentioned in the pages of history, as for the first time in India, farmer organisations from across India, cutting across party lines, are coming together on a platform to save their livelihood.
The farmers have also pledged support for the general strike call by 10 central trade unions on November 26.
The BKU leader said that besides 10 major trade unions, employees’ unions in insurance, banking, Railways and state and Central government institutions will take part in the bandh, which will begin from November 25 midnight and end on November 26 midnight.
Imtiyaz Beg, president of UP Kisan Sabha, said: "The government is not buying paddy at the declared price by the government. Farmers are being driven away during the procurement of paddy transported to the purchasing centre. While roaming around in the village as planned, the traders are buying the same paddy at the rate of Rs 10 to 12 per kg. Due to this, the cost price of the farmers is also not being matched.”
Beg said “similarly, potato, tomato and onion was being purchased at Rs 10 per kg from farmers and it is being sold at the price of Rs 60-70 per kg. Crores of rupees are due on the Sathianav sugar mill of Azamgarh. The price of electricity is also being increased. “
The Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha leader said that workers belonging to all sectors, except those who are part of essential services, would participate in November 26 strike.
"Our key demands are that MGNREGS workers should be given 200 workdays every year, higher wages and the scheme’s implementation in urban areas. Apart from this, privatisation in sectors such as railways, ports, defence, power, aviation, mining and finance should end immediately." Kranti, a farmer who is going to Delhi said.