Even dairy farmers had recently held a protest against dropping prices at Jantar Mantar on July 31. Credit: DTE File
It has been 76 years since the Quit India Movement and the farmers are jumping on this bandwagon. The recent addition to farmers’ countrywide protests saw their organisation All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) call for ‘Jail Bharo’ movement (fill the jails) in 400 districts. This call has received support from a Dalit organisation and ex-servicemen’s associations.
On the eve of countrywide protests, AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, said around 2 million farmers, Dalits and ex-servicemen will protests and get arrested. Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), a trade union, All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM), an umbrella organisation for Dalits, and Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) have come out in support of this movement. “Thousands of farmers, Dalits and ex-servicemen will gather at Parliament Street on August 9 to get arrested,” said Mollah.
The farmers demands are Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops should be one-and-a-half times the cost of production, guaranteed procurement of crops and one-time loan waiver for all farmers.
Farmers ask for…
MS Swaminathan, former Rajya Sabha member and chairman of National Commission on Farmers (NCF), has also issued a letter supporting the farmers’ demands. Swaminathan believes that farmers are demanding all that the NCF had recommended including MSP should be based on 50 per cent over the cost of production, a favourable procurement policy to ensure that farmers get their rightful price, and increasing the ambit of food security Act to increase consumption and contain malnourishment among children.
In the last couple of years, the country has seen the revival of farmers’ movement which shook several state governments. In 2017, Madhya Pradesh saw five farmers get killed for asking for a fair price for their produce. It created a wave of protests in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and others.
In March, more than 50,000 farmers, Dalits and tribals had marched 180 kms to Mumbai to demand fair pay, debt relief and land rights. Again, this year from June 1 to June 10, farmers went on a countrywide strike. They stopped supplying milk and vegetables to the city.
The August 9 protest is meant to make the Modi government feel the heat. All participating organisations are using slogans like “BJP, Quit India” and “Jail Bharo” in line with 1942’s Quit India Movement. This would be the first decentralised protest across the country after in Modi’s regime. Such protests may put the government in tight rope when the general elections are just eight months away.
Demands of Dalits and ex-servicemen
Ashok Bharti of AIAM says they want that all cases against Dalit leaders like Chandrashekhar, Shiv Kumar Pradhan, Sonu and Upkar Bawre, others detained under NSA and those arrested or implicated on April 2, 2018 (Bharat Bandh), be withdrawn. On April 2, Dalits had come out on streets against the Supreme Court scrapping the SC/ST Act and now they want establishment of an Indian Judicial Service under the Article 312 of the Constitution and restoration of the Act 1989.
“The Narendra Modi government has not been working for farmers, and the downtrodden like the Dalits and jawans, who give their lives for the nation,” said Priyadarshi Chawdhury, president IESM. “We are getting support from all sections of the society,” Chowdhury adds.
The ex-servicemen also seek a complete One Ran One Pension (OROP) rule as approved by the Parliament.
Besides, all of them demand end of mob violence, a women reservation bill and scrapping of Aadhar.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.