Farmers in large numbers have started coming towards Delhi after the harvesting season to strengthen the protest against the Centre’s new farm laws, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said on Wednesday.
The only way for the Centre to resolve the deadlock with the protesting farmers is by repealing the contentious farm laws and coming out with a legislation to guarantee the minimum support price (MSP), it said.
Scores of farmers led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions, are camping at Delhi’s border points of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur since last 146 days with their demands for the repeal of the three new laws and a new law on MSP for crops.
“On the call of the SKM, farmers in large numbers have started coming towards Delhi. The farmers are coming back after harvesting, to strengthen the protest at Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Shahjahanpur borders,” SKM leader Darshan Pal said in a statement.
“If the government is equally worried about the health of farmers, it should immediately repeal the three laws and make a new law on the MSP. This is the only solution where farmers can rollback the protest, otherwise, it will be getting stronger day by day,” he said.
Mr. Pal, who also virtually participated in the International Press Conference at Press Club Geneva, claimed that the Indian government failed to consult the farmers, farmer organisations, people living in rural areas, pro-farmer economists or political parties, while framing the controversial laws in violation of a UN declaration which grants rural dwellers a right on such issues.
“We the farmers of India while protesting against these Acts have a very genuine case, and the government has violated our rights which were provided to us by the United Nations declaration of 2018. Secondly, we are not getting MSP or remunerative price for our crops and for that also we demand that our government should make a law,” Pal, who is also the president of Krantikari Kisan Union of Punjab, said.
The SKM alleged that the government instead of strengthening the farm sector is creating “cheap labour” in urban spaces through “agrarian crisis”. “There are reports of long journeys of migrant labourers from all over the country. This danger is the result of neoliberal policies. A big step to sponsor these policies is these three agricultural laws. The results of open market and privatisation are that today thousands of labourers are wandering in cities at cheap wages,” it said.
“Instead of strengthening the farming sector, the government wants to create cheap labour in the urban spaces by creating an agrarian crisis, but now the farmers and labourers will fight back against these policies at all costs,” it added.
Amid exodus of migrant workers from the NCR in view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown in Delhi, Pal said farmer organisations and volunteers have now begun preparing food packets to be distributed at bus depots and railway stations in the national capital.
“Food was distributed to fleeing migrant workers at the Anand Vihar bus stand,” he added.
The SKM also accused the BJP's IT cell of spreading fake news regarding farmers obstructing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by stopping trucks of oxygen and other essentials on the borders of Delhi and also spreading the infection.
“The SKM condemns and opposes all these false narratives. Farmers have never intended to sleep on the streets and stay away from their homes and land. The government has inhumanly imposed these laws on the farmers,” the farmers body said.
“The farmers are not asking for anything new, they are only fighting to save what they have. In this battle of existence, they are fighting against both coronavirus and the government,” it added.
The SKM also alleged that the government is “running away” from its responsibilities at the time of the pandemic, but is ironically choosing to blame the farmers.
In fact, on humanitarian grounds, the protesters have been more than willing to assist locals and others despite the serious hardships that they find themselves in, in the ongoing stir, it added.