Victory for farmers

Finally, the Union government has seen reason and agreed to keep the contentious farm laws on hold for a year and a half. This is a moment of triumph for the farmers, who braved one of the worst winters in recent times to sit in the cold amidst a raging pandemic to demand what they believed was just. Protesting farm unions today rejected the government’s offer to suspend the three contentious agri laws for a year and a half, or any mutually agreed period and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution to end the impasse.
The government had taken a maximalist position when it rammed the farm Bills through the Rajya Sabha without a proper division as propriety demanded. Parliamentary democracy has built-in mechanisms to evolve consensus through committees; and laws that impinge on the livelihoods of millions of farmers ought to have been discussed thoroughly in those consultative and standing committees before being rolled out like bulldozers on standing crops. The protests that ensued have taken a huge toll on the people of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh in terms of over 60 lives lost, six farmers committing suicide, disruption of traffic and livelihood; yet, the farmers were remarkably restrained, not letting emotions override the philosophy of non-violence.
The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 unions, made the announcement following a meeting at Sindhu border. It appeared to be a difficult decision for the union leaders to make as they held several rounds of talks through the day and even sought an opinion from the protesters gathered on Delhi’s borders. The Haryana Police, meanwhile, have cancelled leave of its personnel in view of the stir.
The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 unions, made the announcement following a meeting at Sindhu border. It appeared to be a difficult decision for the union leaders to make as they held several rounds of talks through the day and even sought an opinion from the protesters gathered on Delhi’s borders. The Haryana Police, meanwhile, have cancelled leave of its personnel in view of the stir.
Sources claimed 17 of the total 32 farm unions of Punjab rejected the Centre’s offer, terming it as a “tactic to derail the agitation by dividing the farmers”.
The whole nation should salute these farmers for their fortitude, discipline, tenacity and endurance. They taught a few lessons in community living, langar and sewa to the rest of the nation, making this protest unique.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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