By Atif Khurshid Wani
Delhi and Srinagar have rarely been on the same page. As valley stands frozen from the hills of Warwan to the plains of Srinagar, Delhi is feeling the heat in the heart by dint of resolute farmer protests. The continuing protests kicked off in September,2020 in opposition to the three polemical farms laws. The credibility, reliability and validity of these laws has been the focal point ever since they were passed by Lok Sabha and Raj Sabha. Tenacious unions of farmers bedecked by its representatives continue to stipulate for the total repeal of the laws and pursue nothing short of it. The rejection of the supreme court’s stay order on the farm laws has left the ruling class open mouthed. All the efforts of settlement have yielded nothing but a sequel of cluttering. The unrivalled protests are even more noteworthy given the fact that it is all happening in the bosom of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The protests have slowly and steadily gained momentum with the support of some influential and famous persons as well and it all seems to be snowballing into a colossal wave of anger. The Modi-impelled outcry has diffused to every corner of the world and, hence earned support from the likes UK, Canada and China. It is beyond skepticism that this wave of acrimony is enormous with regard to the prerogative rights of the farmers. The flames might be visible on the edges of capital city only but it has gone beyond the shadows of villages, towns and cities- from consensus fulcrum of Kerala to the unified demonstration of Andhra they stand homogenous in the deliberations and demand.
Withstanding the winter chill, confronting the water cannons and, out-daring the teargas shells nothing seems to be working for Modi and Co. BJP with all its available resources seem to be clueless with regard to the policy making as well. They failed to build castles with CAA/NRC, went swinging with COVID-19 handling and now stand naked with the farce of farm laws. On the other hand, farmers are ticking the right boxes just at the right time. They have logical answers for the biased NDA government, resolve to counter the prime time self-styled journalists and endurance to stand in the winter. Political sympathizers want to squeeze ace out of the hole with the farmer protests also. Congress has conjointly stood by farmers in BJP’s egoistic nature which is obviously an extension of Punjab’s captain Amrinder Singh. Right at the times when protests across India were swelling up BJP turned a blind eye by pouring the blame on opposition for inciting and provoking violence. It was only after “Bharat-Bandh” call on 8th December,2020 when government woke up from the deep slumber and decided to meet the farmers but nothing worked even after many such talks and discussion. Harkening to the ever so resistant farmers, they call it an extension of larger conspiracy in the global market which is undermining the basic security of the farmer. Given the fact that protests in India have never been welcomed in the democratic spectrum but farmers this time have drawn a different line altogether. The political ultras of BJP have seemingly failed to build an anti-national narrative, even after spotting few Kashmiris here and there, which has been their trump card so far. The amalgam of self-restraint and self-control driven by peace and tranquility amidst all the developing fuss gives this protest a new dimension.
Bias within the Laws
The three farm laws readily subvert the safeguarding of farmers and expose them to fugitive nature of the global market. This makes farmers and their land even more susceptible in the larger context of corporatization. No doubt, in unalloyed strings of economy agriculture has fallen off from 41% to 16% in its contribution to India’s GDP. But in the larger picture that has more to do with the policies than with the farming. No denying to the point that before drafting the laws, these needed a deeper insight and a better framework rather than going all out. As agriculture continue to sustain the burdens of unemployment with 50-60 % of the population embroiling in it directly or indirectly, agriculture continues to linger as the spacious avenue for the larger section of the society with diversified character. The bigotry of the government stands exposed right from the day when they disputably came up with ordinances and afterwards propelled them through parliament without a second opinion. One of the congressman claimed, and quite rightly so that, “Government bypassed the federal structure by legislating on the subject that entirely falls in the domain of the state government”. The speculations about the exploitation by big fishes are also credible and compelling given the fact that adjuvant security in the form of MSP is absent in the draft. What adds salt to the wound is the shifting of APMC mandis (Government market yard) to private bands. This is lawfully logical and history stands testimony to the fact that once the option of APMC mandis vanish from the scene there would be no option left but to surrender in front of the big fishes of private world. Another flyspeck that seems to be ill planned is with regard to the collection of fee by mandis that is doting and dutiful for the purpose of development. Once the mandis fade away from the picture, the already dreadful development will take a bigger bite from much bigger whales of corporate world. When nothing goes right, the farmer beats the chest and reaches out to the court so as get the wounds healed and redress the issue. This version of farm laws has also taken out that special privilege as well that makes it difficult to swallow.
Even though central government looks like a lost fool in the midst of crisis there is still an atmosphere of optimism among the farmers. Within the nucleus of farmers there seems to be no implications of melancholy and cynicism which always is a salutary signature in achieving the bigger goals. In fact, they are keeping the ray of sunshine and hoping against the hope that supreme court will intervene as soon as possible without putting the case in the buffer zone. Luckily, the farmers of Punjab and rest of the Indian protesters have not been confined to the four walls with no internet as was done in the case of abrogation of Article 370/35a.The government obviously has bigger shoes to fill in without letting themselves run out of the mileage and restore the lost peace.
Atif Khurshid Wani is Research Scholar Lovely Professional University, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org