After 11 rounds of talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose a path of unilateral declaration rather than a bilateral solution, said farmers group Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on November 21, 2021 in a letter. While welcoming the central government’s decision to withdraw the three laws, it reminded the PM that many key issues are as yet unaddressed.
SKM leaders held their first meeting on Sunday following the Prime Minister’s announcement. During this meeting, members drafted letter reiterating the three additional demands repeatedly raised by the SKM:
1. A legal guarantee to Minimum Support Price (MSP) based on the C2+50 percent formula
2. Withdrawal of the draft Electricity Amendments Bill 2021 that the Centre had promised to dispose in earlier talks
3. Removal of penal provisions on farmers in the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021
The SKM said that while the government removed some anti-farmer provisions, penal action remains a possibility through Section 15.
“Farmers were disappointed due to the lack of concrete announcement on these important demands in your address. The farmers had hoped that through this historic movement, not only would the three laws be averted, but they would also get a legal guarantee to MSP for their hard work,” said SKM in the letter.
Leaders also pointed out other pressing issues that cropped up over the last 12 months of the struggle like the hundreds of FIRs against farmers since June 2020 in Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and several other states. The SKM demanded that these cases be withdrawn immediately. Moreover, they questioned why Union Minister Ajay Mishra remains a part of the Union Cabinet despite his alleged role in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings.
“He is also sharing the stage with you and other senior ministers. He should be sacked and arrested,” said the letter.
Four farmers and a local journalist died during the October 3 incident. Including these deaths, nearly 700 people have been martyred in this struggle. Farmer leaders appealed to the government to compensate and rehabilitate families of these people and to build a memorial for them at the Singhu Border.
Regarding Modi’s appeal to farmers on Friday to vacate protest sites and return home, the SKM said, “We want to assure you that we are not fond of sitting on the streets. We too desire that after resolving these other issues as soon as possible, we return to our homes, families and farming. If you want the same, then the government should immediately resume talks with us. Till then, we will continue this movement.”
Thus, while farmers welcomed the repeal of the laws, they called upon citizens to take part in:
1. The Lucknow Kisan Mahapanchayat on November 22
2. The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Diwas on Sir Chhotu Ram’s birthday on November 24
3. “Delhi Border Morche pe Chalo” on November 26 and all state level farmer-worker protests
4. Sansad Chalo tractor-trolley march on November 29
Voicing solidarity for the same, the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) also called upon members to come out in support of the farmers on November 26.
“The government’s back down is only the beginning of the long battle that lies ahead and the AIFRTE is in the fullest solidarity with the SKM leadership to continue the struggle until all legislative and legal procedures are completed,” said the AIFRTE in solidarity statement.
Members said the resistance should continue until the working people get adequate return for their labour and access those services and requirements that ensure a life of dignity. Accordingly, it demanded the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as it privatises, commercialises and communalises the education system.