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Farmers' protest: All eyes on SC to defuse crisis; SKM vows to continue stir despite setbacks

1 month ago 13

NEW DELHI: The murder of a Dalit youth by a group of ‘Nihang’ Sikhs might have tagged the farmers’ movement to yet another controversy, but it won’t affect the ongoing protests unless the Supreme Court steps in to find some ways to bring the protesters and the government across the table for a final solution.
The SC’s stand during the upcoming hearing on farm laws issue on October 21 may clarify whether the apex court comes out with any specific direction to both sides, or the situation remains the same.
Many farmers’ organisations that have been advocating for reforms in the agricultural sector want the SC to urgently take up the issue, with many of them, including P Chengal Reddy of Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA), even writing to the Chief Justice of India for early hearing to defuse the crisis.
“Farmers had been victims of the old system and that’s why the Centre has come out with the reforms (farm laws) to make their lives better. Even protesters know that the old system had made farmers miserable leading to lakhs of suicides over the years. If the farmer leaders think they have a better solution in mind, they should come for talks and the government must listen to them. There is no other way out to end the crisis unless they talk about reforming the sector,” said Anil Ghanwat, president of Maharashtra-based farmer organisation Shetkari Sanghatana.

Ghanwat, one of the members of the SC-constituted panel on farm laws, told TOI, “We have in our report to the court suggested solutions. Let the SC make this report public and both the sides discuss it.”
Ghanwat too had last month written to the chief justice of India N V Ramana, seeking release of the panel’s report in public domain so that the recommendations could “pave the way” for the government to resolve the ongoing farmers’ agitation.
Meanwhile, there doesn’t appear to be any attempt from any side to defuse the crisis despite the agitation faced several unwanted situations in the past two months – be it in Karnal in August in the wake of ‘break the heads’ remark of district magistrate and death of a farmer, Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy that saw eight persons lost their lives on October 3 or brutal murder incident at Singhu Border on Friday.
Though these episodes showed how the agitation turned violent, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a joint platform of farmer unions spearheading the protests since November last year – sought to term those incidents a conspiracy to sabotage the movement.
“Our movement is opposed to violence in any form. The past instances appear to be a conspiracy to sabotage the movement and that’s why we have demanded to probe even the conspiracy angle of what had happened at Singhu Border on Friday,” Shivkumar Sharma 'Kakkaji', farmer leader and one of top nine members of the SKM told TOI.
He said, “We demanded an investigation into the allegation of conspiracy to sabotage the movement through sacrilege and promotion of disturbance by hurting religious sentiments. There have been many reports that signal a deep conspiracy to defame farmers’ struggle. We have been fully cooperating with the police in its probe and provided inputs.”
The SKM, meanwhile, has been preparing to go ahead with their plan of nation-wide ‘Rail Roko’ (railways blockade) on Monday and holding ‘mahapanchayat’ at Lucknow on October 26 to protest against the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Farmer leaders in their joint statement on Saturday said their movement would continue to grow stronger despite various setbacks, and “peace and non-violence will continue to be the cornerstones for the historic movement”.

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