Farmers’ organisations on Wednesday issued the "people’s whip" to MPs of opposition parties to demand the repeal of the three central Farm Laws and a law guaranteeing minimum support price (MSP) in both houses ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament which commences Monday. The farmers have already announced that they will be demonstrating at Parliament Street in New Delhi on each working day between July 22 to August 13 to press for their demands. The farmers maintain that the laws will compromise the food security of the country and lead to a "ruthless plunder by corporates".
Addressing a press conference amid heavy downpour, Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), said that the demonstrations on July 26 and August 9 will be led by women, who have played an "incredible role" from the beginning.
"Until today, political parties issued the whip to its MPs, but today we have issued a whip to the opposition MPs on behalf of voters who sent them to Parliament. We have asked them to raise the issue with their entire might. They should also ensure that there is no walkout by members, a move which ultimately benefits the Bharatiya Janata Party. They should remain present even if they are suspended. We make it clear that a 200-member contingent from 40 organisations will protest on every working day. On July 26 and August 9 – the anniversary of the Quit India Movement – the women farmers will be leading the struggle,” he said.
Rajewal added that the farmers’ organisations were aware of "external elements" who wished to give a bad name to the agitation. His statement came in the wake of an announcement by Sikhs For Justice, a pro-Khalistan group, which said that they will forcibly enter Parliament if their demands were not met. “We condemn the statement. These are the same elements who smeared our name on January 26. We have asked for a list from the organisations and participants will be given identity cards. No outsider will be allowed,” said Rajewal.
Talking about 'Mission Uttar Pradesh' and 'Mission Uttarakhand', the veteran farmer leader said that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha – a collective of farmers’ organisations – had decided that the unions will conduct meetings across all districts in both states between August 1 and 25 and conduct a national mahapanchayat on September 5 in Muzaffarnagar. In October and November, farmers are slated to hold mahapanchayats in 17 divisions in Uttar Pradesh and in two divisions in Uttarakhand to mobilise farmers against the "atrocities of the ruling party". Farmer leader Yudhveer Singh, from the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) faction, added that the mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar would be attended by lakhs of farmers from distant parts who will be pledging to fight the "criminal apathy of the Narendra Modi government over the last seven months".
Outrage Over Sedition Case Against Farmers
In a first, the Haryana Police has registered a sedition case against two farmers, Prahlad Singh and Harcharan Singh, in Sirsa, for protesting against deputy speaker Ranbir Gangwa who had come to attend a meeting of BJP workers in Chaudhary Devi Lal University. The farmers had shown black flags to leaders of the saffron party. Prahlad Singh, who had attended the conference, maintained that the farmers remained peaceful. “We were enraged because the party was using the university premises to hold its meetings. It is a university where students come to study. They were misusing public property. The persons who hurled stones at their cars were complete strangers. We did not see them in any of the protests. Inspite of arresting these people, the police remained mute spectators and later registered a case against me and another elderly farmer Harcharan Singh,” he said.
Terming the charges "ludicrous", Prem Singh Bhangu, senior advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court and president, All India Kisan Federation, said that while the farmers were slapped with Section 307 of the CrPC whenever they assembled to protest against BJP leaders, it was the first time that such "extreme" action was taken. He said it validated their stance that "the law has been used brazenly to suppress dissent. Haryana Police officials should clarify how a democratic assembly of protesters can be booked under such a law which is only used in extreme cases. There are ample instances where the Supreme Court and other high Courts have made it amply clear under which circumstances this law can be imposed. We recently saw a travesty of justice in the case of Father Stan Swamy, who was booked under a similar law and died without proper trial. I think this is outrageous. We will challenge it in court!”