On December 5 the 5th round of talks of farmers’ representatives with the government in Delhi was not successful, but the situation was redeemed somewhat by a statement made by the Union Agriculture Minister at the end of the 5 hour talks. Speaking in a very gentle voice he told media persons that he would like to thank farmer leaders for the very disciplined and peaceful nature of their protests. This has raised hopes that the government will avoid use of any force and stick to peaceful resolution of its stand-off with the farmers. Here we give 11 important reasons why the government should not even think of using force to evict the protesting farmers from their dharna ( protest sit-in) sites on the borders of the capital city.
- In a democracy the peaceful resolution of issues by people’s movements is of the greatest importance. Indian democracy had an overall good reputation in this context but this reputation has suffered in the recent past as many peaceful protestors were arrested in other movements and tear gas, batons and water cannon were used by the police in the initial stage of even this movement. This is just the right time for the government to redeem the reputation, nationally and internationally, of India as a democracy which can resolve the demands of its social movements A peaceful resolution of this stand-off ( which can be achieved very easily by agreeing to repeal the three controversial farm laws ; kindly refer to my earlier article in countercurrents.org dated December 4 2020 titled ‘21 compelling reasons why the Modi government should accept the demand for repealing the 3 farm laws’) should be accompanied by withdrawal of all cases against the participants in this movement. If the government follows this up quickly with the release of several other peaceful activists, such as Faisal Khan, who have been jailed without any reason, then this will be welcomed all the more, nationally as well as internationally.
- The use of force in evicting protesters will be widely seen as strengthening those who believe in violence, while a peaceful resolution of such an important movement will strengthen the hands of those who believe in non-violence.
- Forced eviction and use of force against peaceful protesters will make the government and its constituent political parties very unpopular among a very large and influential section of people.
- Forced eviction will cause a lot of distress to protesting men, women, children and elderly persons.
- Forced eviction will cause a lot of distress to a much larger number of people who are attached to this movement very emotionally, in India as well as abroad.
- Forced eviction will weaken the patriotic forces in Punjab, while strengthening separatist elements.
- Forced eviction will weaken the patriotic NRIs while strengthening separatist NRIs.
- Forced eviction will cause much distress to a large number of soldiers and policemen who have close family and emotional links with protesting farmers.
- Forced eviction will be harmful for Indian agriculture, food security and more specifically the next rabi crop.
- Forced eviction will be harmful for the Indian economy in many ways at a critical time.
- Forced eviction will anyway not solve any problem as dharnas may re-emerge soon at other important places and the protest may continue.
It is becoming increasingly clear that only a peaceful resolution is possible and peaceful resolution is possible only by repealing three contested farm laws. This message is completely clear for anyone who is willing to face the reality. If the government acts on this basis very quickly then it can even retain the goodwill of farmers and their large number of sympathizers.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author. He has received several awards for rural reporting and human rights reporting.