Rain, cold wave, congestion, the farmers brave it all!

Former bureaucrats write in support of farmers, Delhiites plan support meet, more farmers from Punjab head to NCR

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Delhi woke up to rain and a chilling breeze on Saturday December 12. The first thought of all secular, empathetic citizens was concern for the lakhs of farmers protesting along the city’s border. It is a bitter cold, damn morning, but the farmers of India are made of sterner stuff. They continue to sit-in, brave, and ready to face whatever challenges that are yet to come, as they now mark almost three weeks of sitting in protest on the Delhi border, and nearly four months of protesting the Farm Laws they fear will harm agriculturalists and only benefit corporates.

Morning visuals shared over social media from the border show them getting ready for another day ahead. The langars have not stopped, and hot tea is available for all those visiting, not just farmers, but even those who come in solidarity, and especially the urban poor who just drop in for a hot meal. The langars, community kitchens have been running non-stop since day one at the protest venues. All voluntary. 


A little bit of rain, even though freezing, is no match for those who till fields, and grow crops in all climatic conditions. Soon enough they gathered to listen to those on the stage

The farmers have also been supported by people from all walks of life. The latest is in the form of an open letter signed by 78 former civil servants belonging to the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central Government as well as different State Governments of India. This group of eminent senior citizens have always stood up for social causes and state that they”believe in being neutral, impartial and committed to the Constitution of India.” 

In their open letter, they state that they have taken not of the “huge farmers’ agitation – primarily in Punjab, Haryana, U.P. and Rajasthan – to repeal three new laws has been under way for many months and has been supported by many other sectors like trade unions, student organizations, university teachers’ associations, a range of political parties and others.”

While stating that they “do not wish to discuss here the merits and demerits of these laws but focus on the violation of Constitutional provisions and the breakdown of democratic processes in this saga.” The former civil servants remind all that “in keeping with the federal structure of the Constitution and the range and diversity of State-specific needs, “agriculture” is at Entry 14 in List-II in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. The subjects in this List are within the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of the States and it has been argued convincingly that the laws passed are, therefore, unconstitutional.”

“Unconstitutionality apart, they represent an assault upon the federal character of the Constitution: some legal experts have argued that they violate “the basic structure of the Constitution.” The passing of these laws appears to be a case of legislative legerdemain and they have been challenged in court. They added that “there were no consultations with farmers’ representatives before the legal process. To start with, ordinances were issued during a colossal pandemic which deserved undiluted attention. When the Bills were introduced in Parliament in September, 2020, the demand to send them to Parliamentary Committees was denied.”

They raise another crucial point in the letter and called out the entire process of passing the Bills even when the nation was under Covid-19 lockdown, “Time was not given to debate the Bills and they were railroaded through Parliament; the demand for a division in the Rajya Sabha was not accepted and a voice vote was held amid tumult and confusion, leading to suspicions about the procedure employed. At the same time, some labour laws were passed during a walk-out by the Opposition. The question has been raised pointedly: was this done in the belief that during a pandemic and the restrictions on public gatherings, organized protest would not be possible?”

 “The undermining of democratic processes and the total disregard for public consultation and convenience has been evident in the ways in which Article 370 was repealed, demonetization was implemented without warning or preparation, the Citizenship Amendment Act was brought in and a lockdown ordered with hardly any notice, resulting in untold suffering for millions of migrant workers. What is noteworthy and common to all these actions was a refusal to consult the people affected beforehand and a determination to not hold a dialogue afterwards. The facile option of labelling all those who disagree with one or other of the actions of the government as “anti-national”, “pro-Pakistani,“ “award-vapasi gang”, “urban Naxals” and “Khan Market gang” is chosen to avoid substantive discussion and debate, the very heart of the democratic process, and to vilify and criminalize dissent.”

The 78 bureaucrats added that in their capacity as former civil servants who stand up for Constitutional freedoms, they “would like to emphasize our support for the democratic and Constitutional right of peaceful protest being exercised by farmers and others. It is time that the ruling dispensation listens carefully to the demands being made and demonstrates its respect for democratic traditions, procedures and practices by engaging in dialogue inside and outside Parliament.” The signed open letter may be read here.

Meanwhile, the citizens group Delhi For Farmers has called on progressive and democratic residents of the city to extend solidarity on December 14. The ‘Samyukta Kisan Morcha’ has given a ‘Delhi Chalo’ call and a Nationwide protest on December 14, and Delhi For Farmers has asked “all justice-seeking people of Delhi to join the call and extend solidarity to the protesting farmers on December 14 at Shahidi Park, ITO.”

The Indian Express has also reported that the protest on the Delhi border is expected to grow as over 1,500 vehicles, including about 1,300 tractor-trolleys, from nearly 1,000 villages in seven districts of Punjab is expected to reach the Delhi border over the weekend. This was announced by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee (KMSC), which launched the first major protest in the state against the Centre’s farm laws with the rail blockade from September-end, reported the IE. This convoy, in multiple groups, will replace the first batch of protesters that reached the border along Kundli on 100 tractor-trollers two weeks ago. According to the KMCC, the convoy will move ahead in smaller groups so that the highway doesn’t get congested. Baljinder Singh Sandhu, KMSC press secretary, told the IE that  the new convoy is also prepared for the long haul and trolleys are covered with waterproof sheets and we are prepared for the adverse weather expected in Delhi. “The Centre should have listened to us in June-July. Ab Delhi dur nahin (Now Delhi is not far),” Pannu told IE.


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