Indian farmers celebrate first anniversary of protests

Published November 27, 2021
NEW DELHI: Farmers gather at Pakora Chowk on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the start of their protests against farm laws.—Reuters
NEW DELHI: Farmers gather at Pakora Chowk on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the start of their protests against farm laws.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: Thousands of jubilant Indian farmers waving green and white flags on Friday marked the anniversary of their movement by celebrating a victory that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three agriculture laws the farmers feared would drastically reduce their incomes and leave them at the mercy of corporations.

Using tractors, jeeps and cars, farmers from New Delhi’s neighboring states last November converged on the highways on the outskirts of the capital, braving a harsh winter, a scorching summer and a devastating coronavirus surge.

Farmer groups are continuing to camp out, mainly at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur border points with New Delhi, waiting for the laws to be officially withdrawn during a parliament session scheduled to begin next week. Rakesh Tikait, a top farmer leader, said they also want government assurances of guaranteed prices for certain essential crops, like wheat and rice a system introduced in the 1960s to help India shore up its food reserves and prevent shortages. He demanded that the government set up a committee to settle their demand.

“We are not going away until our other demands are met,” he said. There was no immediate response by the government.

Lal Kumar, a 42-year-old farmer, said “Modi has accepted defeat.” With his low farm income, Kumar said he was not able to look after his family properly.

Farmers worried that the now-withdrawn laws would have left them at the mercy of corporations that would have no legal obligation to pay them guaranteed prices.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021

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