As deadlock over farm laws continues, farmers move SC for resolution

Farmers during a protest at Singhu border near New Delhi Photo: Reuters
As the government directed Delhi Police to file cases against protesting farmers for violating Covid-19 norms, the farmers too upped the ante and filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking its intervention in ending the deadlock over the new farm laws.

Two officials of Delhi Police on duty at the site of the agitation have tested positive for Covid-19 and have been put in isolation.

On Saturday, farmer groups will take their protests up one notch by picketing all toll plazas on the outskirts of Delhi and blocking railway tracks. They will hand over memorandums to district magistrates wherever they are, to register their protest against the farm laws. And on December 14, they will launch an agitation against private procurement by announcing a boycott of goods produced by some corporate houses, which will include Reliance Jio, Adani and other Ambani products. 

Several hundred trucks and tractors are reported to be trundling into Delhi from Amritsar, carrying more farmers from Punjab, as political leaders like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar counselled the government to not test the tolerance of cultivators as the protest at Delhi borders might spread elsewhere if no timely decision was taken on the farmers' demands. He maintained that the farm Bills concerned were passed in a "hurried" manner in Parliament despite the opposition parties calling for a detailed discussion on them. 

In its petition in the Supreme Court, the Bharatiya Kisan Union has argued on behalf of the farmers that the farm laws were passed hastily by Parliament. “The implementation of the Acts in its current form will spell disaster for the farming community by opening a parallel market which is regulated and gives enough place for exploitation of the farmers,” it says.

“Without the agri produce market committee acting as a protective shield around the farmers, the market would ultimately fall to the corporate greed of multinational companies who are more profit-oriented and have no care for the condition of the farmers,” it adds. It further says the laws will corporatise agriculture. “If the Centre was agreeing to 12 of our 15 demands, that means the Bills are not right. Then why not destroy them? We had demanded one law on MSP (minimum support price) but they brought three Bills through Ordinance. Our protests will continue peacefully,” said Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. 

The government on its part has launched a massive outreach programme. A roster of Cabinet ministers is being drawn up to send them in batches to 700 districts in the country to tell farmers about the benefits of the laws. About 100 press conferences will also be held in various places all over the country. The BJP has also joined the campaign, with state presidents and in charges holding video conferences to fine-tune the outreach programme. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged farmer union leaders to consider proposals sent to them to break the deadlock.

But the fault lines seemed to be spreading within the BJP. Film actor and former BJP MP Dharmendra tweeted, “I am extremely in pain to see the suffering of my farmer brothers. The government should do something fast.” The tweet was deleted within hours.



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