Thousands of farmers in the state of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on Monday protested against the Centre's three agricultural ordinances and hike in diesel prices.
Led by different organizations, farmers registered their protest by refusing to plough their fields and parking their tractors on the roadsides across towns and villages and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the ordinances as well as a rollback of fuel prices.
Centre introduces three agriculture ordinances
The Central government has introduced three ordinances, namely- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance.
Today's #farmers protest saw miles long lines of #tractors #Punjab, #Haryana #Rajasthan; the reason, was the fear that #Modi Govt will finish MSP procurement thru the #agri ordinances. No media will cover it, but this should be a warning to the Govt that patience is running thin. pic.twitter.com/7cYhmTcARU— Ramandeep Singh Mann (@ramanmann1974) July 20, 2020
Farmers in the above-mentioned state say that the Central government decided to bring the ordinances without checking its impact on farmers and that these changes will only benefit big companies that will force small farmers to play around their rules.
Farmers allege that the ordinance would demolish the conventional mandi system by disbanding assured marketing system and discontinuing the minimum support price (MSP).
They say that traders from big companies would "exploit" growers in the absence of any "foolproof" dispute redressal mechanism.
"The mandi board will also cease to exist which will eventually lead to exploitation of farmers at the hands of big corporates," Onkar Singh of BKU (Rajewal) faction told PTI.
According to farmers, the ordinance would allow companies to buy farm produce even from outside the mandis and would also not be required to pay taxes on their purchase. This would pressurise the farmers who sell their products in the grain market at MSP to sell their products lower than the MSP.
It would eliminate both competition in the market and minimum support price MSP for the crop, said Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), Punjab president, Balbir Singh Rajewal.
Demand for withdrawl
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh too opposed the ordinance but had appealed the farmers to postpone the protest in view of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The farmers still went ahead, though ensured social distancing and wore masks during their protest.
"You can understand their plight and fears as they have risked their lives and still come out to get heard. The farmer is a harried lot and the Punjab state government is doing everything to support them. These ordinances will ruin the country's grain bowls," said Captain.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also came in support of farmers and demanded the withdrawal of the ordinances.
"They are neither in the interest of farmers nor of arhtiyas and labourers of Punjab and Haryana. They (BJP) say that the ordinances have been introduced to increase the income of the farmers. But it can be done by offering good seeds and fertilizers at low rates," IE reported Hooda on the matter.
Protest against hike in fuel prices
The farmers also protested against rising fuel prices saying that it would increase their input cost.
They also opposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 stating that it could adversely affect subsidized power or free power to different sections of society, PTI reported.
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana submitted memorandums to the Union government through the deputy commissioners on the ordinance issue.