Indian farmers celebrate a year of protests after Modi stepped down | Agricultural News

New Delhi, India – Tens of thousands of farmers held demonstrations across India to commemorate The year they protested Oppose the three controversial agricultural laws, even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that they will be repealed.

in a Amazing U-turn Prior to key elections in key states, Modi said on Friday that these laws will be revoked when the Indian Parliament meets later this month. Although the farmers’ union welcomed the move, they decided not to end the protest before the law was officially revoked.

The Modi government passed three controversial laws September 2020, Saying that their goal is to “modernize” agriculture. The government claims that the legislation will benefit farmers by increasing their income and providing them with more choices when selling products.

But the farmers union stated that the law would enable a small number of private companies to control India’s huge agricultural sector and refuse to provide growers the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government for their agricultural products.

In November last year, hundreds of thousands of farmers — mainly from the grain belt states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh — marched to New Delhi to demand the abolition of the agricultural law. When prevented from entering the capital, they camped on the three main highways leading to the city. Since then, they have not vacated these places.

Farmers will hold demonstrations and tractor rallies and other activities in the vast country on Friday, ignoring Modi’s call for them to return to their homes.

“No one will win or lose now. But this government has started negotiations now,” Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told Al Jazeera earlier this week.

“When this government comes to the negotiating table with a clean heart, we will find a solution.”

“We don’t believe this man”

Earlier this week, Al Jazeera visited a small group of farmers in a major protest site in Ghazipur, a suburb of New Delhi, to read and discuss news reports in Hindi newspapers.

As Modi called for returning home, the agitated peasants decided to stay where they were until the parliament officially repealed these laws.

“We don’t trust this person,” said Abdesh Kumar Jha, an 87-year-old farmer from the Madubani district of Bihar, who traveled to Gazipur in February to participate in a protest.

Farmer Abdish Kumar Ja says he “does not trust” Prime Minister Narendra Modi [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

“Modi is not a king, and his words cannot automatically become laws. We are a democratic country, not a monarchy. The way these laws are passed in the parliament, we hope that they will be abolished in the same way in the parliament,” Jha said. The others nodded in agreement.

On Monday, thousands of farmers held a large-scale rally in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and elections will be held early next year. In the polls, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to keep power.

Tikeit, an influential farmer leader from western Uttar Pradesh, said that if the Modi government does not agree to their demands, they will oppose the party in the upcoming elections.

“If this government does not listen to us, we will oppose it in areas where it gains political power. If this government does not accept our demands, why don’t we oppose it?”

In addition to the MSP law, farmers also want the government to withdraw an electricity bill. They worry that this will cause the state government to withdraw their right to free or subsidized electricity (mainly for irrigation).

According to several farmers’ unions, they also demand compensation for the families of nearly 700 farmers who lost their lives in the year-long protests.

They also hope that the government will cancel fines and other penalties for burning stubble after harvesting crops. Smog has become a major source of air pollution in New Delhi and the satellite towns bordering the northern states where crops are grown.

“They must provide a guaranteed MSP for our crops. Who will compensate the families of the more than 700 farmers we lost during the protest. Who will take care of their families? These are issues that need to be resolved first,” Jia told Al Jazeera.

“Unless our problem is resolved, we will not go anywhere.”

Kishan Singh, 74, from Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, agrees with Jha’s view. He said: “Unless the current government and the prime minister do not accept all our demands, we will not return home.”

Farmer Kishan Singh said Modi decided to repeal the agricultural law to get votes [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

Singh said that Modi decided to repeal these laws because of the upcoming state elections.

“them [BJP] Want votes. They don’t love the farmers or people of this country. They need votes and this is why they decided to revoke these laws,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that he voted for the party in the past two elections, but now regrets his decision.

“They betrayed us. When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi promised that he would double the income of farmers and talked about raising the MSP of crops. What happened to those promises?” Singh asked.

Al Jazeera contacted the BJP spokesperson, but he declined to comment on this issue.

Giles Viniers, a columnist and political scientist at Ashoka University in the suburbs of New Delhi, told Al Jazeera that the timing of Modi’s announcement strongly indicated that the decision to repeal the agricultural law was “out of election considerations”.

“But the unusualness of this decision suggests that it may have been made for other reasons. On the one hand, farmers’ protests have become a symbol of the decline of India’s democracy and have greatly contributed to the deterioration of the prime minister’s image abroad,” He said.

“Secondly, the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the laws before the settlement of disputes with farmers, coupled with their determination to oppose these laws, makes their implementation extremely impossible.”

Verniers stated that farmers have “deep distrust” of Modi’s government.

“The abolition of the agricultural law is the core of farmers’ demands, but it is not their only aspect. Agricultural issues are still as prominent as ever, and farmers still hope that the state will intervene to support them.”

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