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Stop corporate loot or face new round of protests: Massive farmers' rally warns govt

By Harsh Thakor* 

A massive Kisan Mahapanchayat was organized at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). Thousands of farmers from all over the country thronged to the venue. A manifestation of the unity and resilient spirit of the farmer’s movement. embarrassing rulers at the centre to the very core and an expression of mass revolutionary democratic consciousness.
In this Mahapanchayat organized by SKM on March 20, farmers, tribal farmers, women farmers, farm labourers and migrant labourers, rural labourers and unemployment participated. The meeting discussed the impact of government policies on shaping rising cost of living and declining purchasing power.
SKM leaders held a meeting earlier on, March 19, and in no uncertain terms condemned the Central government's path of pro-corporate "development", which they said is minimising farm income and seizing farmland, forests and natural resources for corporate gains.
Members of SKM asserted that the farmers of India will relentlessly raise their voice through the Mahapanchayat, and will not relent their demands are met. They called on the farmers of India to unanimously protest against corporate control of agriculture.
SKM submitted a memorandum to the Central government to fulfill all the pending demands and implement the MSP Guarantee Act immediately. It informed the Agriculture Minister that if their demands are not met very soon, demonstrations and agitations will be staged.
Besides this, state conferences confronting tyranny of the corporate exploitation will be organized on in regions engulfing country, all-India yatras will be organised, and people will be mobilized on the demands of the farmers.
Speakers at the Kisan Mahapanchayat strongly condemned the debt-ridden Modi government for putting agricultural sector, agricultural land, forests and natural resources at the mercy of corporate profiteers.
More than 50 speakers at the Mahapanchayat gave a call to intensify protest against corporate stranglehold of agriculture and anti-farmer policies of the central government.
A 15-member delegation of SKM met the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare at Krishi Bhavan to submit two memorandums to him.
Discussions were held between SKM and the Agriculture Minister and the government agreed to hold talks with SKM to resolve the pending and burning issues of the farmers.
The Kisan Mahapanchayat placed its 10-point demands before the Modi government to comply the written assurances given by the central government to the SKM on December 9, 2021, and to solve the intensifying crisis faced by the farmers. These are:
  • According to the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission, a law should be brought and implemented to guarantee procurement at MSP in accordance the formula of C2 + 50 percent on all crops.
  • SKM has clarified many times that the committee constituted by the Central Government on MSP and its declared agenda is opposed to the demands of the farmers. Scrap this committee and set up a new committee on MSP for legal guarantees for all crops, with proper representation of farmers, including representatives of SKM, as promised by the Central government.
  • More than 80% of the farmers are trapped in debt and forced to commit suicide due to rising input costs in agriculture and not getting remunerative prices for the crop. In such a situation, the United Kisan Morcha demands debt waiver for all farmers and reduction in input costs, including fertilizers.
  • The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for consideration should be withdrawn. The central government had given a written assurance to the SKM that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament only after consultation with the Morcha. But despite this, the government presented it in the Parliament without any discussion. SKM reiterates the demand for free electricity for agriculture and 300 units of electricity for rural households.
  • Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, the main conspirator in the murder of four farmers and a journalist at Tikonia in Lakhimpur Kheri district, should be expelled from the cabinet and arrested and sent to jail.
  • The government should fulfill the promise of providing compensation and rehabilitation to the families of the farmers who were martyred and injured during the farmer's movement and in Lakhimpur Kheri.
  • Abolishing the virtually defunct Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the government should adopt ll measures to compensate the farmers for the continuous losses due to floods, drought, hailstorm, untimely and/or excessive rains, crop related diseases, wild animals, stray cattle etc. Implement universal, comprehensive and effective crop insurance and compensation package for crops. Damage assessment should be done on the basis of individual plots.
  • The Kisan Pension Scheme of ₹5,000 per month for all farmers and farm-labourers should be implemented immediately.
  • The fabricated cases registered against the farmers in BJP ruled states and other states and union territories during the farmer's movement should be withdrawn immediately.
  • Land should be allocated for the construction of a memorial for the martyred farmers at Singhu Morcha.
---
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India

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