For the last one week thousands of farmers in several parts of India have been protesting against three farm reform bills that were finally passed by the ruling party in parliament on 21 September. More agitations are expected as many farmers see the new legislation as inimical to their interests and the future of farming in the country.

Peaceful protests in support of one’s demands or against government policies are a basic right of all Indian citizens under the Indian Constitution and we, the undersigned, urge the government to respect the right of farmers to exercise their democratic rights. There are genuine differences of opinion between farmers and the government on the utility and merits of the new farming related laws and these should be resolved only through dialogue.

All attempts to provoke farmers, use force against them or initiate intrigues to divide them should also be avoided by the authorities. Unfortunately, there is a long legacy of Indian governments manipulating sections of those protesting to use violence and then making this a pretext to use harsh measures to suppress legitimate movements.

Neither should those in power try to claim that the farmers are part of a ‘conspiracy’ to bring down the elected government as these just blatant canards. This again has become a very common practice under the current government in particular, to label every genuine and peaceful show of dissent against it as a sinister ‘conspiracy’, without offering any credible proof.

Finally,  we urge the media also to present all sides of the news and not act only in support of the government’s viewpoint either out of fear or for undue favour. Journalism is a noble profession and allowing media platforms to become vehicles of slanted news and propaganda is deeply undemocratic and against the interests of the people of India.

Signed:

Apoorvanand, Delhi University

Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad

Anuradha Talwar, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity

Kirity Roy, MASUM

Amitadyuti Kumar, APDR

Sankar Ray, Journalist

Saumya Chakrabarti, Visva-Bharati University

Satya Sagar, Journalist

K.P.Sasi, Filmmaker

Binu Mathew, Journalist

Neeraj Jain, Lokayat

Rabin Chakravorty

Rajat Kanti Sur

Jayanta Bhattacharya

Nisha Biswas

Bhaskar Mazumdar

Bidyut Biswas

Biswajoy Bhattacharya

Chandan Das Sarma

Rabindranath Majumdar

Harasankar Adhikari

Parimal Ghosh

Madhumita Datta

Abhijit Guha

Dilip Banerjee

Amitava Bhattacharya


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