Farm laws repealed: First major victory of farmers’ protest, says SKM
Farm unions on Monday termed the repeal of three agricultural laws by Parliament as a historic victory but criticised the government for repealing the laws without a discussion. Both Houses of Parliament passed the Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021 by voice vote to annul the laws enacted in September 2020 to liberalise the trade of farm produce.
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The protests against the laws first began as sporadic demonstrations in Punjab in October 2020 but snowballed into a full-blown political uprising against the Modi government, spreading to several states in the course of a year, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
During a nationally televised address on November 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said his government would withdraw the three laws.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a platform of over 40 farm unions, said the repeal was proof of success of its year-long agitation. It vowed to continue the farmers’ movement until all their “rightful demands” were met.
“History has been made today. This is the first major victory of the farmers’ movement today, while other important demands are still pending,” a joint statement by farm unions, issued through SKM, stated.
“The anti-farmer, pro-corporate black farm laws have been repealed in India’s Parliament without any discussion. The government of India was forced to take this step because of a historic farmers’ struggle,” it added.
Ahead of the Parliament session, farm minister Narendra Tomar appealed to farmers to end their agitation since the government was withdrawing the laws. Key farm leaders responded by saying they would wait till December 4 for a response on a letter written by them to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, enlisting their demands that are yet to be met.
Besides a statutory guarantee for MSP, the farmers want a parcel of land for a memorial to peasants who died during the year-long protests, and all criminal cases slapped against farmers during the course of their agitation to be withdrawn.
They have also sought changes to a proposed electricity bill to keep energy prices cheap for farmers and modifications to an anti-pollution law in force in the National Capital Region that includes provisions to penalise farmers burning paddy straw, the cause of deadly winter smog in north India.
“Protesting farmers continue to wait patiently and hopefully yet again, for the government to address their pending demands. It can be seen that nearly all Opposition political parties of India are putting their weight behind these demands including MSP legal guarantee,” said Darshan Pal, a key farm leader.
He said the protests by farmers will continue, and a decision on marching to Delhi will be taken on December 4.