Farmers in Punjab have been protesting since September 24 when Parliament passed three new farm sector laws. The three laws, described as much-awaited reforms by the Modi government, allow farmers to sell their produce beyond traditional APMC markets, enter into contract farming with adequate safeguards and abolish stock limits of essential commodities except under extraordinary circumstances.
Farmers fear the laws could lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price system and end the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets. They are also demanding the withdrawal of amendments to the Electricity Act, contending that they could lead to an increase in power tariffs. The November 26-27 protests by farmers are in response to the ‘Chalo Delhi’ call given by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), and over 500 organisations are supporting it. Here's all you need to know:
Didn't the Punjab assembly pass the bills to negate the Centre’s farm laws?
The Punjab assembly did unanimously pass three bills to negate the impact of the farm laws but they have to be approved by Governor V P Singh Badnore and President Ram Nath Kovind. The governor is yet to refer the bills to the President.
Farmer organisations are happy with the Punjab government's move but they believe it's a symbolic gesture as it is yet to be approved by the Centre. The agitation is also stronger in Punjab, a Congress-ruled state, prompting the BJP to accuse Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of supporting the protests.
Aren't farmers from other states protesting?
Farmer organisations from Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have responded to the 'Chalo Delhi' call given by the AIKSCC and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. Farmers have been moving in convoys towards Delhi. Governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana erected barricades at the borders with Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi to prevent the march of farmers to the national capital citing the pandemic. Delhi police, who report to the home ministry, had cancelled the permission for protests and rallies at the Ram Lila Maidan on November 27.
Farmer organisations have also planned localised actions with protests in state capitals and district headquarters. A protest march was planned to the Raj Bhavan in Jharkhand and a Grameen Karnataka Band call was given by farmer organisations.
District-level protests were also planned in Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Farmer organisations have also threatened to lay an indefinite siege to the national capital if their demands were not met.
The Centre has rejected calls to roll back the three laws: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that the three laws would transform Indian agriculture by setting farmers free from the clutches of middlemen while selling their produce in wholesale markets.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Food Minister Piyush Goyal held one round of talks with farmer leaders from Punjab on November 13 while another meeting is scheduled for December 3.