Various farmer’s unions and opposition parties are observing ‘Black day’ on May 26th Wednesday marking 6 months of the farmers’ protest that started on 9 August 2020. A nationwide protest day has been organized with the support of various political parties.
The protest started against three ordinances that were passed by the parliament and signed by the President. They are (i) The Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) ordinance 2020 (ii)The farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance & Farm services ordinance 2020 (iii) The Essential Commodities( Amendment) ordinance 2020.The current provisions of law restrict farmers from selling their produce outside their notified APMC markets where the government set MSP will be given. Also, farmers are supposed to sell their produce only to registered licencees of the state government. The APMCs are maintained by the state government and they charge a percentage as tax. The new law relaxes these restrictions and allows farmers to sell their produce outside mandis and to all traders(including those without licenses) like corporates on a contract basis.
The protest arises mainly on four aspects of the new laws; Trade area, trader, market fee, and dispute resolution. The majority of the Indian farmers are less educated and not well versed in the legalities of contracts. Farmers can be easily manipulated and tricked into contracts with corporates as most farmers cannot afford legal advisors. Secondly farmers fear the system of Minimum Support Price (MSP) may end eventually as APMCs may decline. The corporates can provide high prices in the initial years diverting the whole market to themselves till a stage where APMCs decline and later they will be the sole body deciding prices in the market.
The protest grew over the months with support from different parts of the country. Farmers from Punjab and Haryana marched to Delhi where they were blocked at the check posts. Many organizations came forward to help them. And several leaders have sent letters to the government asking them to repeal the laws. Amidst the strong protest, the government stayed the implementation of the laws for 18 months. But the farmers stayed adamant on their need and asked for a complete repeal of the laws.
Peaceful protests in Hisar that led to the release of arrested farmers have further fuelled the protest and black flags were hoisted at various protesting sites as a symbol of their dissent. Due to COVID restrictions, the protest is now carried out at a slow pace. Almost 12 political parties have extended their support to the cause. They are Congress, TMC,NCP,DMK,Shiv Sena,Samajwadi Party,JMM,RJD,CPI,CPM and others.The farmers are determined to protest until they achieve their goal.