“Laws were made in the Parliament and should be repealed there. Our agitation will go on till then,” Gujarat Khedut Samaj president Jayesh Patel told Vibes of India on Friday – the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a nationwide address that the three contentious farm laws will be repealed in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament starting November 29.
The farmers’ from all across India had been protesting the three agricultural laws that were enacted on September 17, 2020. Since November 2020, the farmers – mostly from Punjab, Haryana and pockets of Uttar Pradesh – have been camping at the Tikri border to register their protest. With the support of farmers from other parts of India, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a united forum of farmer unions protesting the three farm laws – carried out a tractor march and organised Bharat Bandh events.
Over the one-and-a-half year, several termed the ongoing farmers’ protest as ‘stagnant’ and backed by ‘Naxalites’. Today, the PM’s decision to repeal the farm laws and apologising for not being able to convince all farmers of the “real intent of the agricultural laws”, has come as a victory for all those who camped at Tikri and others who offered support from other parts of the country.
“We are cautious, as the issue of the legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price for all crops remain,” Patel said, adding, “We began the protest when the ordinances were passed in June. Had the government listened to us then, we would not have lost around 700 of our farmer brothers and sisters.”
“What the PM said today is merely an assurance, not a reality. The fight is not over yet,” Daya Bhai Gajera, president of Gujarat Kisan Sabha said, adding, “The PM did not utter a single word of condolence for those farmers who lost their lives during the agitation.”
The SKM in its press release also maintained the cautionary tone, though acknowledged its accomplishments through the tools of democracy.
“Samyukt Kisan Morcha welcomes this decision and will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures. If this happens, it will be a historic victory of the one year long farmers’ struggle in India. However, nearly 700 farmers have been martyred in this struggle. The central government’s obstinacy is responsible for these avoidable deaths, including the murders at Lakhimpur Kheri,” the statement read.
The statement also reiterated the point brought up by Patel. “SKM also reminds the Prime Minister that the agitation of farmers is not just for the repeal of the three black laws, but also for a statutory guarantee of remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and all farmers. This important demand of farmers is still pending. So also is the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill. SKM will take note of all developments, hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions,” the statement read.
Senior farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal in his statement said, “Today, SKM pays its humble homage to around 675 farmers who have been martyred in this agitation so far, and states that their sacrifice will not go in vain. Punjab Government has announced that it will erect a suitable memorial for these bold martyrs.”
It should be noted that the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab go to the polls next year. The party, though not substantially, has been recording losses that could be attributed to its insistence on going ahead with the farm laws. BJP’s performance in Haryana’s bypolls and Punjab civic elections were underwhelming.