Behind farmers’ protest lies deep distrust & discontent

Tehelka Cover Story in this issue by Mudit Mathur throws light on why protest by farmers is continuing for over 50 days and why there is distrust for the government. The developments over the last few days confirm this. The best example is rejection of a just formed expert committee by farmers.

The committee had been constituted to mediate between farmers and the government. The rejection of the committee and subsequent events prove that the farmers’ organizations were wise enough to see the method in the madness. They have not only rejected the panel but have refused to participate in the consultation process till contentious laws were repealed. By sticking to a firm stand they have escaped a possible trap. They had alleged that the chosen committee members had expressed support for the laws and indeed their distrust and suspicion has come right. 

One of the four members, the Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, has rescued himself from the panel. In a statement published on the Twitter handle of BKU, he said, “In view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country.” 

Well, a committee is only as good as its members and the farmers’ organizations had been apprehensive about the composition of the committee from the beginning.

The farmers who have been holding a peaceful protest in extreme vagaries of cold weather and rains have been demanding the repeal of laws and nothing short of that. The protesting farmers burned copies of the three farm laws on Lohri festival saying that the new laws
diminish the state protection and leave them at the mercy of corporate houses.

On the other hand, government officials opine that pumping in private investment would boost the farming sector. The popular sentiment and support lent by various sections of society makes it clear that there may be no end in sight unless the government listens to the farmers. 

The Chief Justice Bobde had observed, ‘These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with the lives and property of people affected by the agitation.’ The Court has rightly put on hold the implementation of farm laws until further orders. 

The Court’s intervention puts the onus on the government for an early solution to avoid the proposed protest march in Delhi during the Republic Day parade. This is a crisis situation when humanity is suffering and already many lives have been lost.  

The Supreme Court has rightly shown its unhappiness with the mishandling of the farmers’ agitation, the physical and mental health of protesters, and warned of bloodshed. Time for quick action to resolve the imbroglio!