From repealing 3 farm laws to MSP demand: How Farmers Protest dented Modi Govt's second term

On February 13, 2024, thousands of farmers on their trucks and tractors decided to march towards the capital city of India, New Delhi.

Punjab Farmers Protest Farmers Protest Explained

Farmers, mainly from the region of Punjab and Haryana protested in 2020 against the three acts which were passed by the Government of India in September. The three acts were- 1) The Farmers’ Produce and Trade, 2) The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 3) The Essential Commodities Act. On the three farm laws, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait was quoted saying, "Our biggest concern is that operations in mandis and outside would be different. While mandis would levy taxes, there would be no tax or market fee outside. The government is not abolishing the Agricultural Produce Market Committees directly. However, the mandi system enables an assured minimum support price, which will collapse gradually." After the Centre could not reach a consensus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed the three farm laws on 29 November 2021.


Farmers Protest 2.0

Now, on February 13, 2024, thousands of farmers on their trucks and tractors decided to march towards the capital city of India, New Delhi. Multiple entries to the border were blocked either by spikes or cement blocks. The police also sprayed tear gas on farmers at the Punjab-Haryana border to prevent the farmers from going to the National Capital. Internet services were banned in several parts of Haryana and Punjab to ensure nondissemination of messages which might lead to a huge agitation.


Then Haryana CM Khatter raised questions on farmers' methods and their ways to to to Delhi. Former Haryana CM Khatter pointed out farmers are making political statements & moving like an army. "Everyone has a democratic right to go to Delhi but the method of the farmers is questionable," former Haryana CM had said.


Not only this, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court also forbade the protesting farmers who were camping at the Shambhu border with hundreds of tractors. The court ruled that tractor-trolleys can’t be used on highways.


The 200 unions including The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee lead the protest. They also played a huge role in the protests in 2020 leading to the repealing of the Farmer’s Bill.

The demands of the farmers for which they are protesting are:

  1. Enacting a law that guarantees Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all the crops as per Dr. Swaminathan’s commission report. The report states that the government should raise the MSP to at least more than 50% of the weighted average cost of production which includes the imputed cost as well.
  2. They want a full debt waiver for farmers and labourers. This is a legally binding contract between the borrower and the lender that releases the complete or at least a part of the debt.
  3. They want the government to reintroduce the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 ensuring written consent from farmers with 4 times the collector rate. This act aims to boost land acquisition for development without forgetting the concerns of the people who live there.
  4. Punishment for the perpetrators of the Lakhimpur Kheri Killings which occurred in October 2021. This was a tragic incident which took place during the farmer’s protest. Vehicles ran over the protestors during the riot which led to several deaths and injuries to many people.
  5. The next demand is that India should withdraw from the World Trade Organization and ban all free trade agreements. The farmers believe that the policies of WTO focus more on international trade rather than domestic interest which then affects them adversely.
  6. Demand to provide pensions for farmers and farm labourers.
  7. Compensation for farmers who died in the agitation during the Farmer’s protest in 2020 including a job for a family member.
  8. They also demanded that the government should scrap the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020.
  9. Under the MGNREGA scheme, they want 200 instead of 100 working days with a daily wage of Rs 700 linked to farming.
  10. Strict penalties and fines on companies who are producing fake seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, etc.
  11. Farmers have also demanded a national commission on spices like chili and turmeric.
  12. To ensure the rights of indigenous people over land, water, and forests.

These were the 12 demands put forward by the farmers in Farmer’s Protest 2.0.

Government’s response:

Union Minister Piyush Goel stated that they are planning to buy urad, masoor, arhar, and cotton from the whole nation at MSP which further will benefit both, the farmers and the nation’s economy. Union Minister Goyal also broke his silence on MSP saying that the government is considering procuring the entire quantity of maize and pulses from farmers at MSP to encourage diversification of crops from unsustainable, water-guzzling crops like rice.

Now, the question that stands with all of us is – Will the farmers accept this proposal thinking about both them and the nation or will the protest continue?