500 farmers will be holding a peaceful tractor march to the Sansad Bhavan every day starting November 29, to further escalate pressure on the Centre to roll back the three controversial farm laws. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella organisation of the farmers’ union – said that the demonstration is to mark one year of the agitation that started last year on November 26 and will continue during the entire Winter Session of the Parliament.
To mark the first anniversary of the “historic” farmers’ protest, the SKM has also called on mahapanchayats in all state capitals. Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan are expected to gather at the various areas bordering New Delhi, which includes Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Dhansa, and Shahjahanpur. The SKM, which is leading the agitation, announced their decision to observe the first anniversary of the protest in a “massive way” all over the country following their meeting at the Singhu border.
“The day is also Constitution Day, when the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. November 26 also marks one year of the all India strike by the working class last year,” mentioned the organisation in a statement, adding, “The SKM has decided that on and from November 29 until the end of this Parliament session, 500 selected farmer volunteers will move every day to Parliament in tractor trollies peacefully and with full discipline, to assert their rights to protest in the national capital.”
The SKM further stated that the continued protest till the end of the Winter Session at the Parliament on December 23 will “increase pressure” on “this obstinate, insensitive, anti-people and pro-corporate BJP central government, to force it to concede the demands for which farmers across the country have launched a historic struggle for the past one year”.
Stating that there will be huge mobilisation of farmers on November 26, the SKM said, “All farm unions in the SKM will mobilize farmers in strength for this occasion. Huge public meetings will be held there (at borders) that day. Homage will be paid to more than 650 martyrs in this struggle so far.” On the mahapanchayats to be organised in the various state capitals and at the borders of Delhi, the SKM said, “They may be held with wide participation of farmers, workers, employees, agricultural laborers, women, youth and students in all state capitals.”
A Kisan-Mazdoor Mahapanchayat is also slated to be hosted by 100 organisations under the banner of Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha (SSKM) on November 28 at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. “The mahapanchayat will denounce the Modi-led BJP government on all fronts and will raise several burning issues of the working people, including the repeal of the farm laws and the labour codes, a central law to guarantee a fair MSP, halving the price of diesel, petrol and cooking gas, and a halt to privatization and selling off the country for a pittance,” said the SKM.
On November 26 last year, farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, started their indefinite agitation at the borders of Delhi to protest the three laws – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act – enacted by the Centre in September 2020. The farmers have repeatedly asserted that the new laws would leave them at the mercy of big corporates that could enforce prices at will and deprive them of state support. The laws were stayed by the Supreme Court in January 2021 and the apex court formed a panel of experts to examine them.
The government has defended the new laws stating that it would free up trade, boost investment and increase the incomes of the farmers, and that it will not alter the existing system to assure minimum support price. The government has also assured that the laws will ease restriction on trade by freeing the market and will help it coexist with the regulated market.
The farmers protest, though mostly being held peacefully throughout the year, has witnessed glimpses of violence at a few instances. On Republic Day this year, the farmers held a tractor march in Delhi that turned violent as protestors started breaking the barricades, attacking security personnel. They also stormed the Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag.
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On October 3, while a group of farmers were holding a demonstration against the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya at Lakhimpur Kheri, a rally of SUVs that was led by the car of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra mowed down four farmers. Following this incident, a BJP worker and a driver who were part of the convoy were allegedly beaten to death by the angry mob. A local journalist was also killed in the violence, allegedly by Ashish Mishra’s car.