Days have passed into weeks and weeks into months , but the farmers’ dharna (protest sit-in) at important points on Delhi border has continued. Winter gave way to spring and spring has yielded space to summer. The winter (rabi) crop which the farmers planted before coming for the dharna has been already harvested in most villages.
On April 24 farmers will be celebrating the 150th day of their dharna. However some others have counted the protest from earlier days – from soon after the controversial farm laws were passed– and they have already stated that 200 days of protest have been completed. Others go back to even earlier days of protest, soon after the ordinances were brought out, and they will soon to completing one year of protest!
Meanwhile the key demand for the repeal of the three controversial farm laws has spread far and wide. While at the start of the movement it was strongest in Punjab, it has gained a lot of strength since then in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, as also to a lesser extent in several other states like Rajasthan. A national level support-base has been created. Internationally also the overall response is positive. Many discerning people would have been happier if the movement had given more attention to agro-ecology, but despite their partial disappointment at not seeing they are nevertheless happy to see farmers getting more united to oppose three controversial farm laws which threaten to worsen the farming crisis by increasing corporatization of farming and food systems.
There are many people who now believe strongly that the government should not delay any further the acceptance of the key demand of farmers relating to the repeal of the three farm laws. Many people who are firm believers in democratic processes are worried that normally such issues have been settled much earlier by union governments in India. In the present case the breakdown of dialogue between the two sides has continued for too long and this is not considered good for democracy. Over 300 farmers have died. Some state governments have been appealing for resolving the crisis. These have been joined by many eminent citizens, including those who have held very senior positions in the government in the past, asking the government for a more sympathetic attitude towards farmers and pleading with it to resolve the crisis soon.
A recent appeal signed by many eminent citizens including TKA Nair, former chief secretary of Punjab and Som Pal Shastry, former union minister of state for agriculture, has asked for resumption of dialogue between farmers organizations and the government. This statement has stated clearly that the three controversial farming laws will accentuate the farming crisis. Hence the movement against these laws is getting the support of farmers as well as other sections of society.
Here we may recall an earlier appeal of prominent academics, most of whom have held senior positions in government institutions, to the government asking it to accept the demand for the repeal of the three laws as this demand is well-justified.
In view of increasing health risks also the government should not lose any further time in accepting the key demand so that farmers can go back happily to their villages.
Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author who has been close to social movements and initiatives. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children and Man Over Machine.