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Farmers show the way for the country

Farmers show the way for the country

Site of last year's farmers' protest near Singhu border

November 19 goes down in history as a landmark day in independent India's history – the day saw the country, through a unique strike lasting 359 days, fighting and defeating the three farm laws introduced by the Narendra Modi government, which would have thrown the agricultural assets of the nation to the mercy of crony capitalists. A day when a government, which had boasted there was no question of repealing the laws, had to kneel before the fortitude of the farmers. Kudos to the farmer population of the country, that refused to bow before rebuke, suppression and arrests, but stood up without signs of strike fatigue. The people and democracy of the country are indebted to them. The government had tried all means to coax and cajole, and buy up the farmers. When that looked bound to fail, it tried to employ renegades to torpedo the protest. The government put up barbed wire fence and tunnels to block them, more like handling an enemy army, to beat the folks who feed the country. It infiltrated the tractor rally on the Republic Day, incited violence and hounded them under that pretext. The protesters were branded as secessionists trying to destroy the country drawing foreign funds. In Lakhimpur-Kheri, UP the incident in which protesting farmers were hit by a vehicle and killed, saw the son of Union deputy home minister as accused. When it transpired that the agitation could not be blacked out and beaten, pliant media outlets were used to circulate fake stories.

Quite early on, the farmers had declared that the laws, which were passed by force without deliberations in parliament, were a threat to the very sovereignty of the country and there was no question of stepping back without their repeal. The broad spectrum of farmer communities, of different creed, from diverse regions, speaking different languages and growing different crops, stood shoulder to shoulder singing revolutionary songs, guruvani and Quran. Rain, scorching sun or even the pandemic could not weaken their will. Shoots of love and brotherhood sprouted at the protest site. For the country, which was suffocating under muzzling laws and anti-people policies, it blew a fresh air to breathe. A striking feature of the strike was the ovewhelming participation of women, who despite being half of the farmer community had enjoyed little visibility while being engrossed in filling the country's granary. They became the face of the protest. From the elderly farmers who drove their tractors from the Punjab to the borders at Singhu and Tikri, to the women and female students from Kerala became the links of the chain of protest. The farmers also smartly kept at arm's length mainstream politicians, who would perhaps reap the harvest from the front-line of the agitation, which from beginning to end talked only about the politics of agriculture. Still all the political and cultural streams and movements of the country – except communal fascism and their hidden army – lined up behind the cause of the farmers. That unity was in display in the country-wide general strike by labour organisations in solidarity with the farmer agitation. The extent to which the farmers' strike consolidated the idea of India will be clear from the fact that it became the venue for penance in public for the 2013 riot in UP's Muzaffarnagar, a riot that had paved an easy access for the BJP to regain power in the state.

Also to be understood is the fact that Modi and his team have been forced to end the protest by repealing the law because they fear, more than anything else, people uniting through shedding of communal hatred. For, if the electorate cast their verdict free from communal divide and against anti-people policies, the BJP stands on shaky ground in the upcoming polls in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand. And it would have reflected in the next general election too. For the very reason, many suspect that the government's move is only a temporary electoral tactic to ward off an immediate backlash. Many of Modi government's past deeds also lend credence to this hypothesis. Hence the declaration by the protest leaders that they will not stop the strike until the government makes the legislative steps in the parliament to repeal the laws.To be remembered on this occasion are about 700 people who gave their lives during the struggle for farmers' rights. Hundreds have also been subjected to harsh torture and criminal cases for having supported the strike. It is incumbent on every one, more on the political farmer and social movements, to ensure that their sacrifice will not go waste. The farmers have underlined the fact that against a will to fight with tenacity and unity, no anti-people law can be imposed on the people. The people need to walk the path farmers have led, in order to rediscover the India where humanity, amity and secularism rule.

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TAGS:Farmer agitationfarms laws repealedModi announces repealfarmers' tenacity
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