The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, supported by different farmer organisations on Tuesday, staged a day-long demonstration at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai, demanding that the three new farm laws be scrapped, and said the laws served “big, corporate houses at the expense of poor farmers”.
Amidst chanting of ‘Corporate hatao, kisan bachao’, activists assembled at the sprawling BKC, having marched from Mumbai suburban collector’s office to the Ambani Estate in amid heavy police force that stopped them from proceeding.
Apart from Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Communist Party of India (CPI), Lok Sangharsh, Prahar, All India Students Federation participated in the protest to show solidarity with farmers agitation in Delhi and display their anger against centres pro corporate agriculture policies.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetti said, “Our decision to hold the protest at the BKC is to convey a strong message to the government to stop favouring Ambani and Adani. Since the corporate headquarters are in BKC, we held the protest in Mumbai.”
He also said they had nothing personal against these corporate giants, but the “blatant misuse of power” by the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre to promote two corporate houses by handing over the entire agriculture sector could not be tolerated.
If the government did not repeal its farm laws, a clarion call will be issued to boycott all goods by Ambani and Adani in the market, Shetti said. “This is not a mere threat. We will take it to a logical end,” he added.
In the name of agriculture reforms, the Centre was empowering select corporate houses and was pushing “the already vulnerable farmers at the mercy of private players”, Shetti said.
“Our demand is that the government should bring a law making minimum support price compulsory. And if anybody violates it, they should be subjected to punishment under criminal law,” he said, adding, “such provisions of fair remuneration price has been enforced for sugar cane procurement. The violation of FRP invites punishment, so why can’t the Centre extend the same law for other crops too?”
Shetti also said the protest at the BKC was deliberately “kept non-political”, and therefore, it was confined to organisations closely associated with farmer unions.
Not surprisingly, mainstream political parties such as Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, which is in principle opposed to the new farm laws, stayed out of the protest.
The common refrain voiced by protesters was the Centre’s “insensitivity” towards farmers. Many asked why the Centre was turning a deaf ear to farmers agitating in the cold for the past 27 days close to the nation’s capital.
Prakash Reddy from the CPI said, “When the government talks of reforms, its commitment should be towards the larger well being of farmers. What has emerged here is the blatant misuse of power by the Modi government to promote its chosen corporate houses. They are just not bothered about small and marginal farmers already reeling from severe financial crisis.”
The protest was to express solidarity with farmers and will be a prolonged battle, he said. “MSP cannot be compromised,” he added.
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