'It's a Historical Day for Us, Battle Has Been Won,' Say Indian Farmers Ending Year-Long Protest
India's federal government passed three farm laws in September 2020, sparking large-scale protests on the outskirts of Delhi.
Indian farmers on Thursday called off
their 14-month protest as the federal government accepted all of their demands, including the withdrawal of all police cases registered during the rallies and compensation to all families of the farmers who died during the demonstrations.
On Thursday, a five-member delegation from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers' unions spearheading the protests, met Home Minister Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar
. Following their hour-long meeting, the federal government agreed to the farmers' demands.
A letter of assurance from the government received by the farmer organisation on Thursday confirmed that the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh state governments have also agreed to provide compensation packages of INR 500,000 ($6,613) and jobs to the kin of the deceased farmers.
Talking to Sputnik, Dr. Ashish Mittal, the general secretary of farmer union All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, said: "We received the official letter from the government. It has been decided that on 11 December, all the farmers will pack up and return home."
"It's a historic day for us. The battle has been won," Mittal said.
Soon after the decision, the celebrations erupted on Delhi's three borders — Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur – where the farmers had been camping out since 26 November, 2020.
"We are making halwa [Indian sweets] and distributing other sweets, and songs of struggle and victory are being played at the protesting sites," Harinder Singh, the SKM member in charge of media, said.
A video shared on social media shows farmers dancing and singing in jubilation.
In another video, farmers can be seen removing their temporary shelters from the highway.
Singh also said that SKM members would meet in Delhi on 15 January to review the situation.
India's Longest Farmers' Protest Lasted for 378 Days
Last year in September, the Narendra Modi-led government passed three farm laws – 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. This prompted farmers' unions who objected to the bills to take to the streets and hold nationwide protests.
On 26 November, 2020, farmers mainly from Punjab and Haryana reached Delhi's borders but police prevented them from entering the national capital
, forcing the farmers to camp at the Singhu border. Within a few days, new protesting sites at Ghazipur and Tikri border points sprung up.
This year on 19 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he was repealing the three farm laws. He also assured that the government would create a committee to work on a new framework for Minimum Support Price (MSP). Both Houses of Parliament passed the Farm Laws Repeal Bill on the first day of the Winter Session on 29 November. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the bill.
Since the start of the protests, over 680 farmers have died, according to the SKM.