Southern farmer leaders debunk call AG’s claim before SC

Disgruntled by the Attorney General’s comment, various farmer leaders from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and southern states said the mainstream media has done a poor job of covering regional protests.


Farmer leaders from southern states protested the central government’s claim before the Supreme Court on January 12, 2021 that “farmers down south” supported the three laws forcibly passed by the government.

On Tuesday, Attorney General (AG) K. K. Venugopal had told the SC, “As far as Karnataka, Kerala etc are concerned, there is huge support for these laws.”

However, this comment by the AG offended many farmer leaders such as Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) Vice President G. T. Ramaswamy who said that Karnataka farmers have been protesting at Maurya Circle in Bengaluru capital city to decry the three laws.

“Nearly 30 state farmers, including I, visited Delhi from December 23 to December 28 in 2020. I visited the Singhu protest site, the Tikri border and the protest site in Rajasthan as well,” he said.

On December 30, SabrangIndia conducted a phone-interview with the Karnataka leader where he reportedly said that he was attending an indefinite protest in Bengaluru led by various farmers, workers and minority groups of the state. Yet he said that local media had failed to cover the protests properly.

“On January 16, Karnataka farmers will have a tractor march around the capital city. We will also send people to Delhi on January 26. It is shocking that the media is not covering all this,” he said.

SabrangIndia has covered many persevering protests in the state favouring the farmers struggle against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

In early January, youth group Desha Premi Yuvandolan responded to the claim that Karnataka protests are not fierce enough by sending out cycle jathas to the northern, central and southern regions of the state to educate rural farmers about the effect of the three laws.

Similarly, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Finance Secretary P. Krishna Prasad said that Kerala had participated in massive protests on December 10, 2020 especially in the capital state of Thiruvananthapuram. People from various districts have expressed solidarity with farmers opposing the laws.

SabrangIndia’s Kranti ka Naqsha also charts various instances where not only farmer organisations but fishermen and workers organisations have also denounced the laws.

Moreover, Kerala protesters have also declared a ‘Mahapadav’ campaign towards Thiruvananthapuram from January 23 to January 25 to intensify protests in the state.

Further, both Krishnaprasad and Ramaswamy praised Tamil Nadu for massive farmers’ protests.

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) Tamil Nadu Convener K. Balakrishnan went so far as to say that Tamil Nadu had reacted sharply against the laws even before Punjab and Haryana.

“On July 27, 2020, Tamil Nadu farmers organised a black flag-hoisting in parts of rural Tamil Nadu. We had also gathered nearly 1 crore signatures opposing the laws and sent them to the Prime Minister,” he said.

Similarly, on September 25, 2020 nearly one thousand people had been arrested for protesting the laws, said Balakrishnan.

Yet he claimed that mainstream media had chosen to focus on the protests in the northern region when people across the state especially in the river Kaveri belt had engaged in intense agitations.

When asked about the possible reason for this continued ignorance towards southern protests, Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) Co-Founder Kirankumar Vissa said, “When the AIKSCC called for the Delhi Chalo programme on November 26, 2020, it called specifically to neighbouring states. Other areas protested within the state. So, while Telugu news and English news have covered southern protests, it is not given proper attention by mainstream media.”

RSV is part of two coalitions in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana comprising 20 organisations each who oppose the three farm Acts.

Vissa said that just like Tamil Nadu, state farmers had protested across several districts including Hyderabad on August 9, 2020. After that, a series of protests such as tractor marches and motorcycle jathas had ensued to decry the laws.

In September, the RSV observed mass protests once on September 4 and later when the Parliament session began to keep the Bills from being introduced. Similarly, farmers celebrated the grand success of December 8 Bharat Bandh and even sent small delegations to Delhi as railway conditions would allow. Most recently, he said, farmers even joined the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s call for burning the laws during Sankranti.

When asked whether he considered the southern protests “lukewarm,” Vissa said, “Look, compared to Punjab, any state will look milder. If we had a BJP-led state government then we would get more attention like Karnataka… But we are having intensive protests here as well.”


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