Patna: Dozens of farmers were injured in Patna on Tuesday as the police lathi charged on an anti-farm laws protest march heading towards the Raj Bhavan.
Ignoring the biting cold, thousands of farmers from across Bihar took to the streets in Patna on Tuesday and held a protest march to Raj Bhavan (governor’s house) demanding to scrap three recent Farm Laws.
This was the first time that thousands of Bihar farmers have staged a big protest in Patna since farmers began protests at Delhi borders against the agricultural laws passed by the parliament in September.
Farmers took out the protest march under the leadership of Left parties, peasant body Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti and the Sanyukt Kishan Sangharsh Morcha. Most of the 16 MLAs from Left parties in Bihar took part in the Raj Bhavan March.
Soon after the protest march started from Patna’s Gandhi Maidan, the police tried to stop them near Dak Bunglow Chowk using barricades. When the protesting farmers continued to move ahead, the police lathi charged them.
Calling the three laws “kaale kanoon” (black law) – the term which has resonated among Punjab and Haryana farmers – Left leaders said they will mobilise more farmers, including bataidar and landless farmers, to continue the protest .
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Awadesh Kumar and Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist)) state secretary Kunal have condemned the lathi-charge on the protesting farmer.
“Farmers in Bihar will intensify the protest against the black farm laws. Today, farmers from across the state have joined the Raj Bhavan march. The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government in the state used police to suppress the farmers' protest; the police tried to stop them and lathi charged,” Awadesh said.
“Raj Bhavan march by thousands of farmers of Bihar proved that they are against the farm laws and expressed their anger and unhappiness over anti-farmer policies of the state and the central government. Now, farmers in Bihar have announced to continue protest,” Kunal said.
Rajesh Singh, a protesting farmer in Patna, said that under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s rule the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMCA) was abolished in 2006 in Bihar, which badly affected farmers. The aim of the move was to enable private companies to buy directly from farmers, but as per the government’s own data, it failed to benefit farmers.
Singh, who belongs to a village in Jehanabad district, said that after the APMCA ended, private companies failed to purchase even one per cent of the procurement target fixed by the state government.
Bihar has also recorded lower volume of wheat procurement by the government at the minimum support price (MSP) this year. As per official figures, only 0.05 lakh tonnes (LT) of wheat were procured in Bihar in the rabi marketing season of 2020-21, against the revised target of 7 LT. In 2019-20, the state agencies procured 0.03 LT of wheat.
According to government data, nearly two-third of Bihar’s total population of 12 crores is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Most of them are small and marginal farmers. Moreover, nearly two-third of all agricultural activities in the state are dependent on rainfall.
Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state’s gross domestic product, according to the state government’s figures.