Since November 26, 2020, lakhs of farmers and workers have been in their continuous sit-in protest at different points around Delhi Border. On April 26 it will complete 5 months. And the human-cost is enormous: 400+ deaths. But braving death, terrible cold, rain, storm and now around 40°+ at noon, threat of covid19, the farmers and workers are continuing; after all they work in the open fields through tough weather conditions years after years to produce food and fibre for civilisation.
Some people, frightened by spread of corona, may snarl at those farmers and workers seeing them not everybody wearing masks, not observant to covid protocol. Media may stigmatize them as they do, keeping eye shut to what has been happening now in the small town of Haridwar for weeks, and cursing others as corona-jihad. These media might start their propaganda to prepare the ground for Operation Clean – the govt conspiracy to crush the farmers unrest by force, or by other means, as happened to the Anti CAA-NRC protest last year. But please ladies and gentlemen, tell your govt to repeal the pro-corporate anti-people farm laws, and if you can get it done, the farmers will gladly go back home – no hullaballoo, even they will leave your city clean, as they are cleaning their protest-sites, camping-places everyday – they will go back home singing praise for you.
Because, back home, there are lot of works to do. this is the peak wheat harvesting season. Then those million tonnes need to be packed, carried to some place to shelter the grain from rain, sending to mandis, selling. And when all these works will be done, in May, they will have to prepare for rice cultivation from June. They have been doing these for years to make India self-sufficient in food and also for better living. How could you forget? Your govt started the programme – Grow More Food, years back, when India was facing another imminent famine — and farmers, farm-workers did it by so much toil. At least as a gesture of thankfulness, reciprocate with repealing those black laws which will rout the working farmers and farm workers.
But this central govt is preparing their Operation Clean to forcefully end the protest. Will it be another Jallianwala Bagh?
Such a protest, continuous lakhs of man-days for 150+ days, is unprecedented in the world. And you cannot say, go home at this covid times and come back again after covid wave is gone. Organising such a protest is no joke. Never could in India any party or political-alliance could assemble so many protestors for so many days protesting at a stretch. Before the protest started the unions were working for months after months to build this up. It is history, not a story in MSWord of html that you can undo and redo whenever you like.
Thousands of women are sitting under the sun in protest and so that menfolk can do harvesting operation at home. Look in the picture above. Many farmers and workers and still there at protest sites and the local union members are looking after their harvesting. Look at that farmer with yellow turban working in the field in the picture above. He is Jagsir Singh, leader of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) at Jhumba and he is working with team in the field of Sukhminder Singh who is at Delhi border protest site. Indian Express reported this with this picture three days back, on April 22. And as govt forces are gathering in spot, preparing for the diabolical Operation Clean, you see a fraction in the picture. The news reached the villages. Now thousands and thousands are being sent by villages to fortify the protest sites at Delhi border. See the coming, bringing light in the dark of night.
Reach out to help this historic movement. Do whatever you can to stop Operation Clean. Pressurise the govt to repeal the farm laws. Farmers and workers have lost 400 lives in the movement. And they are ready to sacrifice more. Agricultural condition I India is in such a condition every day at least 28 farmers committed suicide in 2019 and more than 88 daily wage worker committed suicide each day, who work in in agriculture, industry, transport etc. This is their ‘life’ – you cannot threaten them with death.
Remember. In this condition they toil and make food and things for the consumption of the country. They deserve humane treatment. Compel the govt to accept their demand and repeal those laws.
Indian agriculture needs a thorough change. Peasants and workers will take up the issues. They need a breathing space. Repeal the laws.
Sandeep Banerjee is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India. Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org