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Modi’s repeal of farm laws is not enough, say Indian farmers – The Diplomat

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It took nearly a year and more than 700 deaths for the Indias Bharatiya Janata party government to announce the repeal of three controversial farm laws.

On November 19, an auspicious day for Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti (most of the protesting farmers are from the Sikh community), Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the protesting farmers and announced the repeal of the three agricultural laws. This marked a sharp turnaround from his government’s previous position.

The three laws are the Agricultural Trade and Trade (Promotion and Facilitation) Law, the Farmers’ Agreement (Empowerment and Protection) Law on Price Insurance and Agricultural Services, and the Law on Agricultural Services. essential products (amendment). They were rushed by both houses of the Indian Parliament in September 2020. However, on January 12 of this year, the Supreme Court suspended the application of agricultural laws.

Agricultural laws allowed farmers to sell their agricultural products outside government-regulated areas. bath (market) system to any licensed trader at mutually agreed prices. Farmers feared that once the new laws were implemented, the Mandi system would collapse, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by powerful corporations. They thought that through these laws, the government planned to call on large private actors like the Adani group. This, they feared, would impoverish the farmers.

These concerns have led to nationwide protests from farmers. Farmers, especially in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, have strongly opposed these laws and called for their repeal.

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A farmer praying at the protest site. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

The Modi government’s decision to overturn all three laws will provide a respite for protesting farmers. Farmers see this as a victory for the voices of the people. Many farmers across the country have welcomed the move.

At the Singhu border, which has been one of the biggest protest sites against controversial laws, protesting farmers were seen raising flags, singing revolution songs, handing out candy and cheering over the government’s decision. Modi to repeal the laws.

Yet there is a strong current of caution underlying the victory.

Sikh farmers waving victory slogans on November 20 at the Singhu border near Delhi. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

So far, only the decision to overturn the laws has been announced, says Darshan Kaur, adding that Nothing is concrete yet.

Leave him [Prime Minister Modi] give us everything in writing, she said. Only then will we get out of here [the protest site]. Otherwise, the agitation will continue.

Another protester, Rashbeer Kaur, said: “We have more people, especially women who come every day. We don’t mind being here 24 hours a day. Let him take the laws back to Parliament first.

They came from Gurdaspur district in Punjab to protest against the three laws. The women farmers arrived in large groups and strengthened the spirit of the movement.

Darshan Kaur and Rashbeer Kaur are doing seva (service to God) at the border of Singhu. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

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The decision to repeal these laws came very late, said Gurpreet Singh, district chief of Khanpur village in Punjab. The protesting farmers suffered so much that hundreds of lives were lost.

Where was the government when we were treated as enemies? he asks, stressing that the protesters will not leave until all their demands are met.

Earlier this year, when protesting farmers marched to India’s capital New Delhi, they were confronted with water cannons, barbed wire and the Internet shutdown.

Gurpreet Singh, district chief of Khanpur village in Punjab. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

Dr Hardeep Singh, originally from Amritsar and present at the protest site, welcomed the government’s decision. Describing the struggle as that of not only the farmers but also the voiceless, he recalls that he had promised that whatever happened, he would not return home until this fight was over.

But look, I’m still here, he said, still waiting for the fight is far from over. We want the government to immediately release all of our people who have been falsely reserved for participating in this unrest and we want these three black laws to be revoked in Parliament. Only then will I leave this protest site.

Dr Hardeep Singh, who has been camping at the Singhu border for many months, says the fight is far from over. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

Ram Singh is all smiles after the Prime Minister’s announcement. A resident of Tilak Nagar in New Delhi, he told us: Today is a historic day. We finally won this fight, we always had hope that this day would come. I came with all my family to show solidarity with my race brothers (farmers).

These farmers are our voices, he said, they sit here braving obstacles. They don’t do it for themselves but for generations to come, for people like you and me. Their struggle will never be forgotten.

Ram Singh with his daughter, Tanpreet Singh. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

60-year-old protester Sukhdev Singh, who has been part of the unrest from the start, said he did not trust this government.

Will our dead ever return? What about their losses? We want all of our demands to be met, one of them being compensation for the families of the dead. Only after all that will I be able to celebrate like the others, he said.

Sukhdev Singh wants the government to respond to all demands. Photo by Uzair Usmani.

Since September 2020, thousands of farmers have gathered around the Delhi border and refuse to budge until the laws are overturned in Parliament. Even though Modi has announced that the laws will be repealed, mistrust persists among farmers.

From harsh weather conditions to water cannons, these farmers braved it all. The farmers’ protest was largely peaceful and quite revolutionary at the same time.

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