(Image: a protestor hoisting the “Farmers’ anthem flag” and Nishan Sahib)
It all started in September, 2020, when the new agricultural laws or the “three farm bills” were initiated by the Parliament of India and then were approved in the same month. The Government of India did all of it so secretly that these bills were not even discussed to the opposition political parties (or at least this is what all of them are saying now) or most importantly, to the farmers, who were the main subjects and were going to be affected by these bills. These new three farming bills are: “Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.”
According to The Economics Times (2020), “The government has said these reforms will accelerate growth in the sector through private sector investment in building infrastructure and supply chains for farm produce in national and global markets. The bill on Agri market seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whoever they want. Farmers will get better prices through competition and cost-cutting on transportation. However, this Bill could mean states will lose ‘commissions’ and ‘mandi fees.” But, this is what the government is saying, the same government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that promised to increase the economic growth of the country and bring back the “Black Money” from other countries by performing demonetization back in 2016 (which, now is called an epic fail and cost around 1.5m jobs in India). The government appeared to have no clarity on the demonetization plan back then and now the same goes for the new farm laws. Some citizens and media persons also say that the only role of the government is now to serve big corporates and it is being ventriloquized by its “masters”.
Farmers of some Indian states like Punjab and Haryana started opposing these bills soon after hearing about them because the citizens of both Punjab and Haryana are heavily dependent on agriculture for a living and even agriculture and farming have a significant influence on their culture, religion, language and festivals. Agriculture is more than just an occupation or business for them and also for most of the Indians.
Soon, they started peaceful protests. When the protesting in their respective states seemed ineffective, farmers announced to travel to the Capital of the country, New Delhi, for further protests. On their way to New Delhi, they faced barricading and road jamming by the government. Even the Haryana government dug up huge holes in the middle of the National Highway leading to New Delhi (and no official said anything as they witnessed the destruction of the government property made with taxpayers’ money) just to stop the protesting farmers.
They bore the beating of the police, and even water-canon attacks and still managed to make their way to the borders of New Delhi. After seeing the continuous escalation in the numbers of the protestors coming from other states like Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to join their “farmer brothers”, Modi Government called for a meeting with the representatives of the farmers to have a “talk” on the subject. When the conversation did not meet an end (because the farmers wouldn’t allow these new farm bills to destroy their livelihood and the government is just not ready to give up the companionship of its corporate friends), these “talks” took place 5-6 times, all proving resultless.
On the other side, the majority of the news channels (or Godi Media as they call it now) in India, as the nation as well as some other nations know by now, is acting like the dummy of the Modi government. These channels are known to have senseless debates (mostly anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan), and biased news anchors. So, the Godi media, in the panic to save the government’s “smart” decision, started labeling the farmers on protests terrorists, anti-nationals, Khalistanis, and paid actors. If you still tune-in an Indian news channel, you will likely see a Godi media news channel (on your screen, because of their majority) and you can still see how they are representing the Prime Minister as a “mastermind” and the protestors as people who are not actually farmers but everything else.
Now, as I am writing this article (or opinion) and as I am following the events happening there in New Delhi, farmers from Punjab (as a majority of them belong to the Sikh community) entered the Red fort of New Delhi and hoisted the “Farmers’ anthem flag” and the Nishan Sahib (religious flag of Sikhism) with the National flag (but as it can be seen from the photos, the National flag was still hoisted and is still slightly above the flags hoisted by the farmers).