It’s been half a month, and the protest at Jantar Mantar is still ongoing, with leaders of opposite parties joining their protest in solidarity with the farmers. After more than seven months of protests, the farmers are still looking for amendments to the bill that they have been long waiting.
The three farm bills implemented by the government last year – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – were opposed by the farmers as they were detrimental to their livelihood.
They protest against said laws as it would enable contract farming which gives large multinational companies an incentive to dip their fingers in, harming the local farmers’ income.
These laws threaten these farmers, whose bread and butter are the crops that they trade in. They enable contract farming and ease up the restrictions put on the purchase and sale of farm products and the constraints on stockings. These laws, in their own words, are “anti-farmer”.
The Agitation Against the Farm Laws
When the Parliament passed these laws, many farmer unions started conducting protests in their particular districts. Last November, the farmer’s union of Punjab and Haryana were the first to move up their local objections to the streets of Delhi with the slogans of “Chalo Delhi”.
They fought against every attempt taken to hinder their progress to the capital city. They even rejected the offer of holding protests at the outskirts of Delhi, at a site designated by the government, by setting up camps on the highway of Delhi’s borders.
This protest did incite a discussion with the government and the leader of 35 farm unions but with no results.
The Long Way Down
The farmers protesting in the capital city were prepared for the long haul. They made arrangements to survive the harsh winter and the upcoming sweltering summers.
Their preparations and efficiency attracted the attention of the opposite party, trade unions, and world leaders who spoke in solidarity with these protesting farmers. Other unions also supported them in different parts of the nation with organisations of peaceful protests.
After months of protests and countless discussions, the government proposed implementing these laws on hold for 18 months and setting up a joint committee until a solution is reached but was rejected due to fear that giving any breathing room would create lousy precedence.
From rallying protests in their hometowns to travelling miles to reach the capital city braving the hurdles set in their path, and continuing with their march through the seasons, these farmers have seen and fought through it all.
They have launched peaceful demonstrations, set up camps, and led hundreds of people to stand for their cause. Now, still ongoing with their protests, they have gathered at Jantar Mantar, showcasing their will to the government and people who had deemed to ignore their plights.
These farmers have decided to take their stand and are determined to not budge from their fight. It is one of the best demonstrations of democracy shown by people mostly thought of as inconsequential.