As farmers complete nine months of protest at the national capital’s borders, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) organised its first all-India convention on August 26, 2021 morning at the Singhu border. Over 2,000 men and women farmer representatives from around 25 states arrived for the meeting that is to continue until August 27 noon. Further, leaders of workers, agricultural laborers, women, youth, students, Dalits and tribal organisations also participated in the convention to discuss the intensification of the farmers’ struggle.
During the meeting, participants paid tribute to about 600 farmers who have been martyred since November 26, 2020. Participants included delegates from 22 states representing more than 300 farmer and agricultural workers’ groups, 18 all-India trade unions, 9 women’s organisations and 17 student and youth organisations.
On Thursday, the convention had three sessions, the first of which concerned the three farm laws decried by the farming community. The second session addressed issues of industrial workers and the third session pertained to agricultural workers, rural poor and tribal issues.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait inaugurated the meeting, while SKM member Ashish Mittal moved the main resolution. Other leaders like Hannan Mollah, Darshan Pal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Medha Patkar, Jagjit Singh Dalewal, Gurnam Singh Chadhuni and others also addressed the meeting. As many as 15 speakers per session deliberated, contributed and enriched the resolution placed in the meeting.
“Speakers emphasised about the deep transformations that the farmers’ movement has brought about amongst farming communities, and the many positive outcomes already being experienced due to the prolonged protest,” said Mollah. Trade union leaders addressed the gathering about the “undemocratic and anti-people” four labour codes that were imposed on workers.
“Delegates which called upon the people to intensify and expand the ongoing struggle across the country so that Modi Govt be forced to repeal the 3 anti-farm laws and give a legal guarantee of MSP,” said All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) President Ashok Dhawale, presiding over the inaugural session.
Meanwhile, lakhs of farmers attended a maha panchayat in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand’ on September 5. The group is soon to release a resolution calling upon people to denounce the “anti-people and corporate-oriented Modi-Shah-led BJP government.”
“The carefully orchestrated and curated drama that was created for its PR effect by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath yesterday [August 25] maligned the ongoing farmers’ movement. However, Mission UP plans of SKM will soon be dispelling these efforts of the BJP government,” said the SKM.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh said the BJP government’s nervousness towards the farmers’ struggle is visible from the meagre sugarcane SAP (State Advised Price) hike and Adityanath’s promise of completing pending payments from 2010 before the crushing season.
Sugarcane prices, “highest ever”?
The Union government on August 25 announced what it called “the highest ever” Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane. The price approved for sugar season 2021-22 that is compulsorily payable by sugar mills is Rs. 290 per quintal for a recovery rate of 10 percent.
However, the actual hike in prices is a meagre Rs. 5 per quintal. Farmers called this hike “an insult to sugarcane farmers of India”.
“On the one hand, the CACP and the Centre advise that SAPs of sugarcane should not be hiked in a differential manner across states and on the other hand, the FRP is not fixed in a fair manner by the Modi Government. After the recent historic struggle of farmers of Punjab who secured a fifty rupees hike per quintal of sugarcane, it is clear once again that cost of production figures are being suppressed, and farmers’ hard toil is being exploited,” said the SKM.
Regarding the Indian government’s press release about record high procurement of sugarcane (after paddy procurement), farmers said that the purchase is done by sugar mills mandatorily at the announced price. Protesting farmers have been asking for such a remunerative price at C2+50 percent to be legally guaranteed for all agricultural produce as part of their major demands in the nationwide struggle.