A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker from the Indian state of Rajasthan has claimed that the farmers sitting in protest against newly passed agricultural laws are conspiring to spread bird flu by consuming chicken.
"Some so-called farmers are agitating. These so-called farmers are not participating in any movement but enjoying chicken biryani (a dish prepared with rice) and dry fruits for leisure. It is a conspiracy to spread bird flu", said BJP legislative assembly member from Rajasthan Madan Dilawar.
Dilawar's statement comes as a bird flu outbreak has occurred in seven Indian states.
The BJP politician's diatribe against the protesting farmers did not stop there. Urging the government to forcibly remove the farmers from protest sites, the lawmaker said, "There may be terrorists, robbers, and thieves among them and they may also be enemies of farmers. All these people want to ruin the country. If government doesn't remove them from the agitation sites, then bird flu can become a big problem", Dilawar added.
Farmers from the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh are up in arms against the new farm laws brought about by the government, sitting in protest on the outskirts of the national capital since the end of November 2020. The new farm laws - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Law, 2020 and the Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Law, 2020 along with Amendment to the Essential Commodities Act – were approved by the Indian parliament in September of last year.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Law, 2020 allows farmers to sell their produce at places apart from their designated government-run agriculture market. The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Law, 2020 facilitates contract farming for farmers, allowing them to enter into supply agreements with private firms. The Amendment to the Essential Commodities Act has been done to remove stock limits so that procurers may buy from farmers feely.
The farmers are protesting because they fear that liberalisation of the agriculture market will end the system of minimum support price – which the government announces at the end of the harvest season for state procurement. Farmers are demanding repeal of the new laws.