Farmer agitation enters 47th day, all eyes on SC hearing pleas on protests

File Photo: Mir Imran/GK

The farmer agitation on the borders of the national capital entered the 47th day on Monday as the farmers have taken to the streets protesting against the three central farm laws. But now all eyes are glued on the Supreme Court which would conduct a hearing on various pleas related to the farmers’ agitation and the new farm laws on Monday.

Under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the farmer organisations, which have been spearheading the protests have chalked out a strategy to intensify the movement in which they have announced to carry out a ‘Farmers’ Parade’ on January 26 in New Delhi and across the country.

Farmer leader and General Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, Hannan Mollah, however, said that the ‘Farmers’ Parade’ would not cause any hindrance in the Republic Day celebrations observed in the country. In a special conversation with IANS, he said when the Republic Day celebration in New Delhi ends, the farmers would carry out a ‘Farmers Parade’ driving their tractors across the country.

Asked about the hearing on the petitions by the Supreme Court related to the roads blocked due to the farmer protests, Mollah said, “We have not blocked the routes. The Centre has stopped the routes with the help of barricades.” The lawyers of the eight people who have been issued notices in the petition related to blocking of roads would go to the court, he added.

On the question of refusal to go to the Supreme Court during the last round of talks with the central government on the issue of three farm laws, Mollah said the farmer organisations have already said that their complaint is to the government which the people of the country have chosen.

Therefore, it is the government’s job to hear the plea of the public and the court should not intervene in the matter. He said while the court intervenes in the legal matters but this is a matter related to the central government’s policy in which the apex court must not intervene.

Apart from pleas admitted before the SC related to blocking roads due to farmer agitation, leaders of some political parties have also filed petitions challenging the new farm laws. A farmer organisation in its petition has said the agricultural reforms are in the interest of farmers.

After eight rounds of negotiations with the Centre, the next round of talks with the farmer organisations is to be held on January 15. The farmer organisations have earlier devised a strategy to intensify the protest through various programmes on Lohri (January 13) and Makar Sankranti (January 14).

Asked if the next round of talks also fails, what will be the farmer union leaders’ strategy moving forward? Mollah said, “Our agitation is quite peaceful and will continue in a peaceful manner going forward. Farmers will stage a protest at district headquarters from January 20 across 719 districts of the country as well as from January 22 to January 25 at the Governor House. Then on January 26, a ‘farmers’ parade’ will be held.”

He said the farmers’ parade would also be peaceful and entry to the national capital would be in a peaceful manner.

The farmer unions are demanding the repeal of the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 implemented by the central government, as well as a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The other two demands of farmer unions have already been accepted by the central government concerning the provision of heavy fines and jail sentences in the ordinance related to stubble burning and electricity grants for irrigation.