India’s farmers march: What are their demands? Why doesn’t the government block the roads? | Protest news

Thousands of farmers are marching on tractors and trucks towards the Indian capital, New Delhi, to push the government to meet their demands, including price guarantees for their produce and debt relief.

On Tuesday, police in the state of Haryana, which borders Delhi, fired tear gas at farmers to prevent them from reaching the capital, which has been turned into a fortress, reviving memories of the 16-month-long unrest by farmers two years ago. Multiple entry points into the capital were closed with barricades made of barbed wire, nails and cement blocks.

The authorities banned large gatherings in Delhi and suspended internet services in several districts of Haryana ahead of the march to Delhi, which was called for by farmers from Punjab and Haryana along with several other northern states.

Here’s more to learn about the protest:

Who participates?

Besides organizations from Punjab and Haryana, unions from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are also participating in the march as they demand government intervention to help the struggling agriculture sector, which is essential for food security in the country.

The protests are being led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee. Organizers said that more than 200 agricultural unions are participating in the march to Delhi.

SKM played a key role in the 2020-2021 protests that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three farm laws that farmers feared would benefit corporates at their expense. Farmers have accused the Modi government of failing to fulfill its promises to farmers since then, including doubling their income.

SKM called for a nationwide rural and industrial strike to express its disapproval with the government.

What are the demands of farmers?

Farmers are demanding legal guarantees of a minimum support price, which acts as a safety net for the farming community; agricultural loan waivers; And roll back policies they say harm farmers.

Minimum support, which is the cost at which the government buys crops from farmers, provides farmers with assured income for their produce amid market uncertainty.

The demand is that the minimum support price be fixed at least 50 per cent above the cost of producing any crop.

Farmers are protesting against the planned privatization of the electricity sector. State governments currently provide subsidized electricity to farmers, which helps reduce input costs.

They are also demanding compensation Farmers who died During the 2020-2021 protests.

“Around 750 martyrs have fallen during the struggle,” said Viju Krishnan, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, an organization involved in the current protests.

Among other demands is the dismissal of a federal minister whose son was accused of running over farmers with his car in Uttar Pradesh. Lakhimpur Khairi The region in October 2021.

The protests also seek to ensure that promises made by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in 2021 are implemented.

“The three laws have been withdrawn, but BJP-ruled states are trying to bring them in through the back door. Even the last budget sought to privatize post-harvest activities,” Krishnan said.

The Modi government formed a committee to address agricultural issues, but failed to include representatives from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, all major grain producers. The committee did not make any significant progress.

Meanwhile, farmers continue to suffer from long-term problems. Debts caused by crop failure kill thousands of Indian farmers every year. Agricultural production has declined due to extreme weather conditions and dwindling water sources due to climate change.

How did the BJP government respond?

A government delegation held negotiations with the protesting farmers, but the talks did not yield results. On Tuesday, Indian police fired tear gas and arrested some farmers who clashed with them on the border between Haryana and Punjab. Police also dropped tear gas canisters from a drone at one of the border points in the northern state of Haryana leading to Delhi.

Devender Sharma, an Indian agricultural expert, noted that farmers have been cut off from the capital as authorities have fortified the borders of Delhi and Haryana.

How can we keep them out of the country? from the capital? Who made the decision? Asked.

What are the themes of the 2020-2021 protests?

During the previous protests, farmers protested against laws passed by the BJP government that allowed farmers to sell produce directly to wholesale buyers and made contract farming easier.

While Modi said the laws were aimed at liberating farmers, they led to the resignation of Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who described the legislation as “anti-farmer”. Modi had to Pull three Farm Laws 2021

In 2022, the Modi administration promised to form a committee of farmers and state officials to find ways to ensure price support for all agricultural products. The farmers accused the BJP government of failing to fulfill this promise.

What is the impact of the protests on the Indian elections?

The march comes months before the general elections, which the Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to win.

“We don’t know how this protest will go and whether it will lead to practical solutions,” Sharma said, adding: “If it continues, it will only have an impact on the elections.”

Farmers make up two-thirds of India’s population of 1.4 billion, and account for nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures. The farmers then form an influential voting bloc, and parties try to gain their support.

Krishnan said the BJP was being condemned for its “anti-farmer and anti-worker policies”.

Seeking farmers’ votes, the Modi government last week awarded the country’s highest civilian award to former prime minister and agriculture leader Chaudhary Charan Singh, and MS Swaminathan, one of the pioneers of the agricultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

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