India

Farmers from Maharashtra to undertake vehicle rally to join farmers protesting in Delhi

Maharashtra: Amid protests by farmers in Delhi over three farm laws by the government of India, approximately 4,000 farmers from Maharashtra will undertake a vehicle rally from Nashik to Delhi from Monday in solidarity with the protesting farmers.

The farmers hailing from 21 districts in the state, under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), will lend support to the farmers who are demonstrating against these laws in Delhi. These are mainly farmers from areas such as Thane, Palghar, Nashik and Ahmednagar, a report by Hindustan Times said.

The farmers will travel in around 250 vehicles for four days covering 1,266 kilometres crossing states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Ajit Navale, general secretary, AIKS (Maharashtra), called it a battle. “This is to show the support of Maharashtra farmers, and we will not come back till we achieve our aim of repealing these anti-farmer laws,” the report quoted Navale as having said. He described the laws as tailor-made to suit the interests of the corporate sector and trample over farmers.

He said they are taking all precautions in view of the COVID pandemic.

Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since the month of September when the parliament of India passed three farm laws. From last many weeks despite the severe cold, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.

After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers have decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they are coming to Delhi.

In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to convince farmers, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.

Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district, but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.

Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.

Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.

They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP. Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.

Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.

 

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