On the first anniversary of the death of five farmers, who had been killed by the police during protests in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur, the country is seeing fresh protests in 7 states.
These protests are being led by the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, who has called for a 10-day nationwide agitation being referred to as Gaon Bandh.
This Gaon Bandh was started on the 1st of June in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The protest is being done to demand loan waivers, the right price of crops, and immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report on farming.
In order to make sure their demands are heard, many farmers took to roads and streets, raising slogans and throwing vegetables and milk on the roads. They have also stopped supplying milk, vegetables, and essential farm produce as part of this protest.
This has resulted in the disruption of vegetable and milk supply to various areas of the country, which in turn is causing an increase in their prices.
They are being supported in their endeavors by various farmer groups and organizations, which share their thoughts and are staging similar protests where farmers spill fresh milk on roads.
The government however doesn’t seem to be taking these protests too seriously. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar dismissed the protest’s relevance. He insists that the strike is being staged over unnecessary things and will eventually bring losses to the farmers as more and more of their produce goes to waste.
Madhya Pradesh Agriculture minister Balkrishna Patidar gave similar statements, going as far as to claim that there are no strikes taking place in the country.
He claims that the farmers are happy with the schemes that have been launched for their benefits and have complete faith in the government.
These claims are being opposed by the opposition leaders, who are looking at this protest as an opportunity to score some brownie points with the farmers. Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamalanath both have already announced that they will be holding a protest on June 5 in Bhopal.
It is obvious that once they get involved, so will their supporters, which will eventually end up making this protest political motivated.
The general public is already feeling the pressure, even without the involvement of politicians, as they have to cope with the abrupt rise in prices of vegetables, dairy products and other farm produce.
It is yet to be seen whether these protests will actually accomplish anything, since the waiver of loans and implementation of new rules is not something that can be achieved overnight. Moreover, even if they end up getting their demands met, it will still come at a cost of valuable produce, the destruction of which will harm both the farmers as well as the general public.
We will just have to wait and see, if and when the government decides to heed to these demands. If not, then will the farmers extend their protests, or will it be postponed until the next anniversary?