'Arrests During Parliament Protest Won't Stop Us, We'll Stage Hunger Strike': Indian Farmer Leader
14:11 GMT 13.07.2021 (Updated: 10:37 GMT 19.07.2022)
Since November 2020, tens of thousands of farmers in India have been protesting against the three farm laws brought in by the Narendra Modi-led federal government and passed by Parliament to liberalise agriculture. Several rounds of talks between farmers and the government have resulted in nothing but stalemate.
India's farmers have stunned all who have witnessed their protests against the three new farm laws with their determination which has gone from strength to strength as time has passed. They are set to demonstrate outside Parliament from 22 July, and on Tuesday they said that if they are arrested they will stage a hunger strike while in custody.
More than 300 farmers will be participating in this protest that will take place during the Indian Parliament's Monsoon Session as the parliamentarians discuss and pass new Bills.
Talking to Sputnik, farming leader Dushyant Nagar admitted that it is not going to be easy to hold a protest outside parliament. “We have invited five farmers from each district village council to take part in the demonstration and represent their area against the new farm laws. There will be around 300 who will gather at the Gazipur border [connecting Delhi and Uttar Pradesh] where the protest gained momentum last year," said Nagar, who is also convenor of the farmers' group Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS).
"We will march towards the parliament from 19 July and hold the protest on the ground on 22 July. We’ll hand over the memorandum to the ministers, who support our protest, and urge them to raise their voices over this issue in parliament,” he said.
Nagar and his fellow farming leaders planning to observe COVID-19 restrictions while holding their protest and the main concern is the possibility of a law-and-order situation because of the police blockade.
“We asked the government and police authorities to allow us to hold protest either at Jantar Mantar or Ramleela Ground in Delhi. But both requests were refused. Now that we are extending this protest to parliament, we might be obstructed by the police force. But we aren’t going to stop this time. Even if the police arrest us, we’ll happily surrender and continue with peaceful protest as well as staging a hunger strike in the custody,” Nagar added.
Highlighting the effect the new farm laws are having on the farmers, Nagar added that this fight is not just for farmers but for everyone who will be clobbered because the laws will cause food prices to rise.
“In the past year, several food essentials, including mustard oil, have risen in price by three to four percent. Because private companies have become involved in dealing with the farmers directly on a contract farming basis, they are able to control the market price according to supply and demand. Common man is also bearing the brunt of a price rise in basic commodities. The laws have changed the whole dynamics of India’s agriculture system,” Nagar explained.
With #FarmersProtest_AtParliament, the protesting leaders have taken to social media ahead of the big march drawing the attention of other netizens and celebrities worldwide.
The Fascist govt thought that the farmers will be leaving protest site after several months, but they forgot our courageous and fearless ParentsWho has experience the worst situations of life struggles and tackle the every #FarmersProtest_AtParliament pic.twitter.com/MdUvqMXpDt
The three farm laws comprise the 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.
These were introduced with an aim to enable farmers to sell their produce to any seller across the country and deal with private companies directly instead of operating through government-regulated wholesale markets.
However, the farmers feared that by opening the agricultural markets to private companies directly, it will end the minimum support price (MSP) - or state procurement system.