Farmers’ protest is in news, once again. On July 31, farmers squatted on railway tracks and blocked roads at several places in Punjab and Haryana for about four hours, effecting cancellation or rescheduling of several trains to and from Amritsar and of course causing trouble for the passengers. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, which had been spearheading the protests in several states for about one year, withdrew it after the controversial anti-farmers laws had been repealed last year. So, why are the farmers once again hitting the roads? The SKM says that the July 31 protest is the beginning of a nationwide protest against the centre “reneging on its promises” made when the farm laws were repealed. They maintain that they were forced to squat on rail tracks as the Centre was “not listening to their demands”.
Four farmers – Lovepreet Singh (20), Daljeet Singh (35), Nachattar Singh (60) and Gurvinder Singh (19) – were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 last year when a car driven by Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra allegedly ran over the farmers protesting against then Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area. The farmers were angered by a purported video showing Mishra allegedly challenging those protesting against the Centre’s now-repealed farm laws. While Ashish Mishra is an accused in the case, farmers are demanding the sacking of Ajay Mishra as well. They are also demanding the withdrawal of cases registered against farmers during the anti-farm laws protest last year, compensation to the families of farmers who lost their lives during the stir and rollback of the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the defence forces. About the panel on the MSP formed by the government recently, the farmers say the authorities included in the committee officers and farmers who were in favour of the now-repealed farm laws. Therefore, to the farmers there is no justice in sight.
Reneging on one’s promises or not keeping one’s promises is a sin, to say the least. But as the Machiavellian politics being practised brazenly would have it, our politicians make loud promises, it seems, only not to keep them. Thereby they may enjoy some relief or profit for the time being but in the long run they have to lose their sheen in the eyes of the large segments of masses. In the case of farmers, had the powers-that-be fulfilled their demands, the farmers would not have to stage the protest once again. We hope good sense would logically prevail upon the authorities and they would meet the demands of toiling farmers, the sooner the better.