Indian farmers celebrate victory march back home as their historic struggle ends after a year

On December 11, tens of thousands of farmers in India participated in a final ‘Victory March’ from the borders of national capital Delhi where they had been camping in protest for over a year

December 13, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Indian farmers victory march
Farmers leave from the Singhu border protest site in Haryana in December 2021. (Photo: Kisan Ekta Morcha/Twitter)

After a year and 15 days, the historic farmers’ struggle at the borders of the Indian capital New Delhi came to an end on Saturday, December 11. Garlands, songs, slogans, langar (community meal served by Sikh groups) and loud cheers greeted the hundreds of trucks, trolleys and tractors full of farmers arriving from the Tikri border site at the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway toll-tax booth.

On December 9, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of more than 40 farmers’ unions which has been spearheading the farmers’ struggle in the country,  announced in a press statement that the struggle was to be suspended following a meeting between the Narendra Modi-led government and the five-member committee which was set up following the prime minister’s November 19 announcement repealing the three contentious farm laws.

The protest was withdrawn after receiving a signed official document from the government mentioning that it has accepted all three demands of the protesting farmers – withdrawing the criminal cases against farmers, formation of a committee to fix Minimum Support Price (MSP) with clear terms of reference, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the struggle.

In the letter signed by Sanjay Agarwal, secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the government said that it would be forming a committee to fix the MSP which will include members of SKM, representatives of State Governments and the central Government, and farming experts. 

Due to the death of India’s Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and other defense personnel in a helicopter crash on December 10, the movement leaders had decided to postpone celebrations to December 11. 

The movement’s landmark victory in repealing the three farm laws has been hailed as a major success against the government’s attempt to introduce laissez faire policies and allow the entry of private players into the country’s agricultural sector. 

In its statement, SKM also declared that the unions will be meeting again in Delhi on January 15 next year to discuss the subsequent developments on the government’s agreement and to take stock.

The decision to finally lift the protests after 380 days was arrived at as a result of a meeting among farm union leaders on December 7 fter the central government sent a draft proposal ‘softening’ its stance on the pending demands to the five-member committee set up by the farmers’ collective. The two sets of draft agreements that were exchanged and discussed in stretched parleys between the government and the committee included key conditions apart from the repeal. These included a committee to decide on MSP, the promise of discussions on the electricity bill, softer laws against stubble-burning, and the assurance that all cases against protesters during the agitation will be withdrawn.

The historic farmer’s movement which began in November 2020 became the longest agitation in the history of farmers’ struggle in India. It drew farmers from the country’s most agriculturally significant States like Punjab, UP and Haryana, as well as other parts of India, and was finally suspended a fortnight after both houses of parliament repealed the controversial laws on November 29.