Indian Farmers Agree to Call Off Year-Long Protest after Government Promises to Meet Demands
17:13 GMT 08.12.2021 (Updated: 10:40 GMT 19.07.2022)
© Sputnik Farmers
The stalemate between the Indian farmers protesting against three controversial farm laws and the federal government has continued despite 11 rounds of talks. But when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 19 November that the farm laws would be repealed during the Winter Session, it seemed that the year-long protest would end.
Indian farmers on Wednesday unanimously agreed to call off their protest after a two-hour meeting of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a farmers’ union heading the protests since November 2020.
Although the the demonstrating farmers agreed to call off their year-long demonstration on Wednesday, they have insisted on official confirmation from the government that their demands be met. The farmers have given the authorities a deadline of Thursday.
Earlier in the day, a five-member delegation from the SKM met Home Minister Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
After meeting the federal ministers, the delegation briefed all farmers’ leaders about the government’s stand on the Minimum Support Price (MSP), compensation for farmers who died during the protest, and withdrawal of police cases against the protesting farmers.
Sharing the future course of the protest, farmer leader Yudhvir Singh told Sputnik: “We received a letter from the government that all our demands will be met but the letter didn’t have any official signatures.”
“We have asked the government to issue a formal letter and then we will end our protest tomorrow [Thursday] at noon,” he added.
Singh, however, didn't go into detail as to what the government's assurances were.
Earlier, the farmers’ union said that the protest would continue until the government agreed to enact an MSP law. Apart from the law on MSP, the union also pressed for compensation for the families of the farmers who lost their life during the protest and withdrawal of police cases against the farmers.
Around 700 farmers are believed to have perished during the year-long protest.
Farmers Call Year-Long Protest 'Historic Journey'
Since the beginning of the protest, there have been 11 rounds of talks between the government and the farmers’ unions but all remained inconclusive. The government tried to convince them that the laws would benefit the farmers, but they continued to press the demand for its withdrawal.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 November announced that the farm laws would be repealed, protesters termed it as their “victory”.
Talking to Sputnik about the year-long journey, All India Kisan Federation president, Prem Singh Bhangu said: “The government used all measures to break the unity of the SKM but we remained undaunted. Today is a historic day, as the government has agreed to our demands. This is the victory of our unity.”
“The SKM will continue to raise farmers' issues even after ending the protest tomorrow. It is just that we will leave the Delhi borders and start making our way home,” he added.
SKM member from Punjab, Mukesh Chandra Sharma, echoed Bhangu's views and told Sputnik: “This protest has brought farmers from across the country at one platform. We started with 32 organisations and a lot of the members were not even aware about their rights. It is just the beginning of the SKM and the future course of action of the organisation will be decided tomorrow.”
Farmers Protest Lasts One Year
Thousands of farmers from the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at the borders of the national capital since 26 November last year demanding the three controversial farm laws be repealed.
The three laws were: 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) Ordinance 2020.
On 29 November, a Bill was passed in the Indian Parliament to roll back the three farm laws, one of the main demands of the protesting farmers. But the stalemate continued with protesters demanding that the government fulfill their other demands including a legal guarantee on the MSP and a removal of cases against farmers.