Farmers suspend agitation, to vacate Delhi borders by Dec 11
New Delhi, Dec. 9 (IANS): Almost 15 months after the agitation began, triggered by the now-repealed three farm laws, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Thursday said they have suspended their protests after positive assurances from the government on their demands, but said a review would be taken on January 15.
“We are happy with the letter from the government. We plan to celebrate our win and return from the campsites at Delhi borders and other locations on December 11,” one of the leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), Yudhvir Singh said.
He, however, said, there would be a review meeting of the SKM leaders at Singhu Border again on January 15 to assess if the government has lived up to its words.
“Our current agitation stands suspended. Battle has been won and the war to ensure farmers’ rights, especially to secure MSP as a legal entitlement for all farmers, will continue,” the SKM statement on the 378th day of the agitation in Delhi said.
The farmers wanted to celebrate on Friday itself, however, in view of the solemn occasion of the funeral of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, who perished in a helicopter crash with 12 others on Wednesday, the celebrations will take place on Saturday, when the farmers return to their homes. The SKM leaders’ meeting started with a two-minute silence to the deceased in the crash.
The letter from the government had been in the making for two days as the farmers demanded additional assurances not mentioned in the earlier two drafts. The current one promises formation of a Committee that will include farmers’ representatives to discuss how to arrive at the minimum support price (MSP) among other demands.
The SKM said, “We dedicate the fabulous and historic victory of the struggle to around 715 martyrs of the movement, including those in Lakhimpur Kheri,” and added, “Farmers’ unity, peace and patience has been the key to the victory, and this will not be allowed to erode in any circumstance. We shall collectively stay alert and ensure that promises are kept.”
Meanwhile, the mood at the Singhu Border camp site on Delhi outskirts was jubilant since morning. On the one hand, hectic activity was going on for winding up the camp site, home to scores of farmers for the last 15 months. And on the other, SKM meeting was going on with eager media persons mingling with the overjoyed farmers.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a consortium of 40-odd farmers’ organisations from across India, had spearheaded the agitation from day one. The countdown for ending the agitation had begun on November 19, when the Prime Minister announced to repeal the law, but confusion continued even after Parliament repealed the contentious three laws on November 29 about the exact fate of the agitation.
The President had given his assent to the three Farm Bills on September 27, 2020. The three Bills were Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The farmers had maintained that repeal of the farm laws was just the primary demand, but there were other demands too and the agitation would not end till those were met. One of the main demands among those unmet then was legal backing for minimum support price, for which the Prime Minister had announced formation of a committee with representatives from the Centre, states, agriculture bodies, farmers, and academicians.
Ahead of these becoming laws and soon after that farmers across the platforms had embarked on agitation, some of them peaceful, some resulting in damage to government property, including the riotous agitation at the Red Fort on January 26 earlier this year. The SKM has claimed loss of lives of more than 600 farmers at various places during the agitation. Hundreds of these farmers — most of them from western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha — had been camping at various entry points to Delhi.