The National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) has joined the nationwide call given by their “farmer brothers and sisters to repeal the newly enacted farm laws”. The NFF has resolved to go ahead with the a ‘Samundhar Bandh’ a fishworkers strike if the government does not pay heed to the demands of the farmers. The fishworkers of India have always been a part of the farming communities, as they are the ones who harvest food from the seas and rivers the same way farmers harvest the land. Both communities of farmers have to deal with fluctuating weather conditions as well as fluctuating government commitment.
Narendra R Patil, Chairperson, NFF issued a statement confirming that the lakhs of fishworkers have joined the Bharat Bandh call as part of the ongoing farmers’ protests for the repeal of the farm laws – The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. “These laws had been unilaterally thrust upon the farming community as ordinances in the midst of the lockdown,” he stated, adding that the “NFF firmly believes that these laws are anti-farmer in nature and spirit and will effectively support the corporates in the form of agri business to loot our natural resources even further and increase the corporate’s margin of profits.”
According to the NFF, this “essentially also leads to furthering landlessness within the peasant community leading to further displacement and unprecedented migration uprooting the peasants from their traditional livelihood.” The NFF stated that it has noted that “there is a systematic attack on the federal structure and autonomy by displacing the local markets by allowing corporates to enter the terrain and making the farming community more vulnerable by making them dependent and at the mercy of the corporates.”
They have always flagged this “ambition of making each and everything under ‘One’ ness” as a “worrying trend” even for the farming community and the farmers on land as this “does not accept the aspirations of the natural resource based communities be it the farmers or fishworkers or the working class at large. The promise of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 is not only going to be a dream, but also will see the dismantling of the agricultural economy in total and is going to see the marginalisation and invisibilisation of a number of actors be it the women, the landless, the small farmers, fishworkers from the spectrum of the sector.”
Even as the National Fishworkers Forum hoped that the government will stop “its repressive tactics to suppress farmer’s protests across the country, the arbitrary imposition of false cases and arrests on farmer leaders and activists” it has stated that it does not see this struggle in isolation and has called for wider alliances and “further actions if the Government do not relent to the demands of the farmers”.
The forum condemned “the violent and inhumane usage of tear-gas and water cannons upon the protesting farmers in Delhi especially when it is extremely cold” and demanded that “Government of India withdraw the new farm laws and listen to the farmers demands and act upon it with immediate effect.” If the demands are not met by the Government, the NFF has urged “all the trade unions of the fishworkers in the coast to come together and join the struggle in Delhi as well as announce the Samundhar Bandh as this is a united fight.”
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Fishing for trouble, or troubling the fishworkers?