Indian farmers lead country-wide shutdown

The shutdown marked ten months of the passing of three controversial laws. Farmers fear these laws will allow for greater corporate role in agriculture and reduce the price they get for their produce

September 27, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: Newsclick

A day-long peaceful country-wide shutdown was organized in India to mark 10 months of the farmers’ agitation. The shutdown lasted from 6 am to 4 pm and was called for by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organization of around 40 farmers’ unions. They were backed by a number of trade unions and political parties.

The farmers have been demanding that the government at the center, led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), repeal the three agriculture laws enacted on September 27 last year. The contentious laws, farmers argue, will allow for the increased role of corporates in agriculture besides driving down the price for their produce. 

These, however, are not the only demands the farmers have. Over the course of the 10-month agitation, they have taken up wide-ranging issues afflicting the common people of India. The increase in fuel prices, inflation, unemployment and crackdowns on dissenters are some of the issues they have highlighted. 

Watch | Indian farmers’ struggle: The past 10 months

A wide section of the society came out in support and suspended work for the day. It was backed by a majority of opposition parties, trade unions, employee federations, student, youth and women organizations. Some non-BJP State governments, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab, lent their support to the shutdown.

Reports of protests, demonstrations, highway and rail blockades by farmers, backed by other sections of society, poured in from several states through the day. Emergency services, such as ambulances, were not being stopped, the farmer unions said.

The last round of talks between the farmers and the right-wing government at the center was held in January when it unceremoniously came to an end. The government has refused to engage with the SKM, going as far as painting them enemies of the country.

Also read | One year of farm laws; here’s how protests unfolded

The government then had offered to suspend the law for 18 months, till the dispute is resolved. Farmers’ unions rejected the proposal saying they will not call off the agitation until the three laws are repealed. 

SKM highlighted that the overall mood across the country is anger and frustration with the Modi government’s policies which it is enforcing by curbing basic freedoms and democracy and consequently, putting most citizens on the path of struggle for survival. “It is patently clear that the people of India are tired of Modi Government’s adamant, unreasonable and egoistic stand on protesting farmers’ legitimate demands, and anti-people policies in numerous sectors”, said SKM.

Opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), hailed the successful shutdown

With inputs from Newsclick.