January 30, 2021 11:57:55 pm
The ongoing farmer protests should continue by adopting the path of Satyagraha and rejecting sectarianism and violence, said social activist Medha Patkar on Saturday. Patkar, who is among the 37 named in Delhi police’s tractor rally FIR earlier this week, was speaking at an event, organised by the Lokshahi Utsav Samiti, on Mahatma Gandhi’s 73rd death anniversary.
“The farmers’ protest cannot be associated with what occurred on January 26. Now the question is whether the protest is violent or non-violent and what will it achieve. We need to understand who the farmers face and which side they stand with. The protesters are not foolish that if they pick up stones, they (security forces) will bring out the guns. The authority, who is in favour of violence in order to have a tight vote bank, will not let us live in peace, let alone protest. Hence, we would only be on a non-violent path,” she said.
Patkar said while many question the need to sit on dharnas and the problems faced due to the protest on roads, the role of the agitation by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha is to not only repel the three farm laws but also to prevent such moves of the Centre that affect many.
“Revolutionaries like Birsa Munda struggled for land rights. But after seven decades since Independence, a farmer is compelled to commit suicide every 17 minutes in our country. If this does not move you to the core…for the ones who give their sweat and blood for your comfort, then standing up for them is a food for thought for us,” she added.
Patkar said there is no space for debates in Parliament. “It is not just an issue of farmers but also of labourers, women, Dalits and Adivasis. The laws will affect every individual associated with agriculture and its branches. We all need to stand collectively to save the democracy.”
Farmers have two crucial demands: they want to be free from the weight of debt and get the correct rate for their produce, Patkar said. She highlighted that the new farm laws aim to privatise and corporatise the agriculture sector which would not only affect the farmers, but also the consumers.
Seema Kulkarni, founding member of the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management, Pune, who was also present at the event, said: “Women are in majority when it comes to the labour required in farming. Women are out on the streets and alongside their male counterparts on tractors, because the farm laws affect them too.”
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