Syed Khalique Ahmed & Masihuzzama Ansari | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Supporting the farmers’ stand on the three agriculture-related reform bills that were passed in the Lok Sabha this week, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Indian Muslims’ biggest socio-cultural organization, has urged the government to withdraw the bills as these are neither in the interest of farmers nor the consumers.
In an interview to India Tomorrow on the issue that brought the farmers in Punjab and Haryana on the roads, JIH vice-president Engineer Mohammad Salim said that three bills taken together would allow corporates to enter the food procurement business, hoard the essential commodities like food grains and vegetables like potatoes and release them in the market only after the prices had skyrocketed.
Speaking about the three bills, namely, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, he said that since the new laws do not have any provision guaranteeing farmers for procurement of their farm produce (which is under the existing laws procured by the Food Corporation of India(FCI) at Minimum Support Price or MSP), this would result in farmers selling their produce at throwaway prices to corporates and others.
As the new laws allow sale and purchase outside existing ‘mandis’ and Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC), it would also herald the end of FCI and APMCs that helped farmers to sell their produce at MSP and benefit them. “With the new laws removing wheat and other food items from the Essential Commodities list and the government allowing anyone to buy the foodgrains even outside mandis and APMC markets, will result in corporates setting up godowns, buy the commodities at cheaper rates from the farmers with MSP having been dropped from the new laws, hoard the commodities to create artificial scarcity in the market and bring them to market only when the prices shoot up. This will benefit the corporates only, neither farmers nor consumers”, he explained.
Stating that his organization shared the concerns of farmers all over the country, Engr Salim urged the government to withdraw the news laws to ensure that the farmers did not suffer.
Lie Will Not Solve Farmers’ Problems: Haryana BKU president
Regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that MSP would remain in force in the interest of farmers, Haryana unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Ratan Mall told India Tomorrow that “problems of the farmers will not be solved by speaking a lie”.
“MSP word has not been used even once in any of the three bills passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday and Thursday”, he said. “If the provision of MSP has been taken away from the three laws, how can the PM ensure that the agricultural produce is purchased at MSP?”, asked Mall.
He demanded that the government should come with a law to make it mandatory for the buyers to procure farm produce at MSP only and its violation be made a criminal offence. “Only an MSP guarantee can protect the interest of farmers”, he asserted.
About the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, that allows contract farming, Mall said that the law prohibited farmers from going to civil courts in case of any dispute. The law allows the parties to take their dispute to sub divisional magistrate and district collector only, the executive authorities who work directly under political bosses. “Since there is always a deep relationship between the corporates and politicians, corporates will use their connections and get the dispute settled in their own favour. Hence, the farmers will not get justice”, said Mall, adding that “the new laws are heavily in favour of the corporates and against the farmers”.
He said that BKU is sending one lakh postcards from Haryana to Modi, urging him to withdraw the “anti-farmer” laws. BKU, he said, has also planned a national “panchayat” of farmers at Barwala town of Hissar district on October 5 to hold deliberations on the issue and take a decision about the agitation to be launched against the three “anti-farmer” bills.
‘Bharat Bandh’ on September 25
Meanwhile, several farmer organisations under the umbrella of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) have given a call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ or a nationwide strike on September 25 against the passing of three agriculture-related bills.
Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union(Dakaunda) in Punjab said, “The three Bills will stop government procurement of crops and end the price security as cereals, potatoes, onion and oilseeds etc will be removed from the essential commodities list”.
Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, which has been protesting against the new agricultural bills all over Punjab since September 7, has announced ‘rail roko’ agitation on September 24 and as many as 17 farmer organisations under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union(Chaduni), Haryana, has announced to organize ‘road blockade’ between noon and 3 pm on September 20 against the new bills all over Harayana.
Farmers’ Protest Forced Harsimrat Kaur to Resign From Union Cabinet
The protest against the three agriculture bills has been so strong in Punjab that Shiromani Akal Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet after passage of the bills. According to political analysts, Kaur resigned from her ministerial portfolio as she feared that she would lose support of her constituents if she continued in the government as majority of her supporters are Sikh farmers. After her resignation, she said she tried to convince the government against the Bill but failed.
Agriculture Bills are “Conspiracy to Destroy Farmers”: Amarinder Singh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder said, described the three bills as “conspiracy to destroy farmers and Punjab”. He said he was unable to understand what enmity BJP and the Akalis were having with Punjab and why they were out to destroy Punjab. He said that farm bills would create anger and unrest among Punjab farmers.
Haryana Opposition Leader Demands Special House Session to Reject the Bills
While Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanded a Special House Session to reject the three farm-related bills on the lines of Punjab, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala exhorted BJP allies to take a stand on the issue when it comes up in Rajya Sabha on Sunday. “They would have to decide on whose side they like to stand. Are they with the farmers or against them?”, he said. He particularly targeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the YSR Congress Party and the AIADMK who are supporting BJP at the Centre.