On the Republic Day tractor rally of farmers, supporting protests against new agri laws, violence took place. The violence over shadowed the entire Republic Day celebrations in capital New Delhi. The protesters vandalised the Lal Qila, one of the historic and significant places in Delhi, and hoisted the Nishan Sahib ( A sikh religious flag) atop the flag mast where PM unfurls tricolour on Independence Day!
But, why has it happened? How the situation escalated this far? Why the protests, which were termed peaceful since last 4 months, turned so violent and took nation by shock?
The answer may lie in the pages of laws passed by parliament!
on January 27, a day after the violence, IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath has said that the recently-enacted agri laws in India have the potential to increase farmers’ income, but there is a need to provide a social safety net to the vulnerable cultivators.
Gopinath, in response to a question on the new farm laws, said: These particular farm laws were in the area of marketing. It was widening the market for farmers. Being able to sell to multiple outlets besides the Mandis without having to pay a tax. And this had the potential to raise, in our view, farmers’ incomes. That said, every time reform is put in place, there are transition costs. One has to make sure and pay close attention to that it’s not harming vulnerable farmers, to make sure that the social safety net is provided. Clearly, there is a discussion right now and we’ll see what comes out of it, she said.
The three agri laws, enacted in September last year, have been projected by the Indian government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
So far, 11 rounds of talks have taken place between the government and farmer leaders with both sides hardening their positions. In the last round of talks, the government offered to suspend the laws for 1-1.5 years and form a joint committee to find solutions, in return for protesting farmers going back to their respective homes from Delhi borders.
Farmer leaders, however, said they would settle for nothing less than a complete repeal of the laws, which they find pro-corporate, and a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at government-fixed MSP. The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, is leading the protest against the three central farm laws at several border points of Delhi.
Tuesday’s tractor parade in New Delhi, which was to highlight the demands of the farmer unions to repeal three new agri laws, dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the city as tens of thousands of protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort.
The Kisan Morcha has disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence during the tractor parade and alleged that some "antisocial elements” infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.
What is the way forward now?
Only time will tell what happens next. In the context of violence, police have registered many cases. And Delhi police chief has said strict action will be taken against culprits. Few Kisan unions have left the protests criticising the violence and blaming only few bad elements. It is still early days to say what happens next.
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