United States legislators have voiced their support for the farmers protesting against the agriculture laws in India.
“I stand in solidarity with the Punjabi farmers in India protesting for their livelihoods and protection from misguided, manipulative government regulations,” Congressman Doug LaMalfa tweeted. “Punjabi farmers must be allowed to protest peacefully against their government without fear of violence.”
Farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting for 13 days straight at Delhi’s borders, demanding that the Centre repeal the contentious farm laws. India has said earlier that it was its internal matter and cautioned foreign leaders from speaking on it.
Democratic Congressman Josh Harder said that India owes it to its citizens to allow peaceful protest. “I encourage these folks and PM [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi to have peaceful, productive discussions,” Harder said.
Congressman TJ Cox said India must uphold the right to peaceful demonstration and ensure the safety of its citizens, adding that the rights of farmers protesting must be respected and meaningful dialogue is the way forward.
Andy Levin, a Democratic Congressman, said he was inspired by the movement of farmers in India and see it as a harbinger of “a people power year” in 2021. “Whether here at home or around the globe, we’ve got to help workers earn a better and more secure living,” Levin tweeted. “In India, many workers are farmers, and they are making it clear that they will not stand for Modi government ‘reforms’ that allow corporate interests to exploit them.”
The farmers’ protest in India has received support from other countries as well as the United Nations. On December 4, the UN had supported the agitation, saying they have a right to protest peacefully and the authorities must allow them to do so. On the same day, 36 British MPs wrote a letter to the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, urging him to express concern about the protests to India.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first world leader to speak in support of the farm law protests. On December 1, Trudeau had spoken in support of the farmers’ protest in Delhi against the Centre’s agriculture laws, saying that his country will always defend the rights of peaceful protestors. He had on December 4 again expressed solidarity with Indian farmers even as India said that his comments were “an unacceptable interference” in its internal affairs.
The farmers have called for a Bharat Bandh, or a countrywide strike, from 11 am to 3 pm on Tuesday. The Delhi Police have warned of strict action against protestors who disrupt traffic, or force others to participate in the agitation. Farmer leaders, however, said the Bharat Bandh will be peaceful, and no shops and establishments will be forcibly closed.
Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in Punjab and Haryana. The situation escalated twelve days ago when tens of thousands of them marched to the Capital, where they had to brave tear gas, water cannons and batons used by the police against them. The farmers have since camped along the borders in the outskirts of Delhi and have said they won’t leave until the government rolls back what they call “black laws.”
The farm laws
The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Farmers and traders have alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.