Farmers in various Indian states have been protesting against the three latest bills of the Indian Agricultural Law the government said will broaden the tightly controlled agriculture industry to the forces of the free market.
The bill that was passed back in 2020 made it convenient for the Indian farmers to sell their productions directly to the private buyers and enter into a contract with all the private entities. As per the government, investments from the private sector will boost growth. As a part of the agricultural reform policy of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the laws will also enable traders to stock food products. Hoarding food items for the aim of making a profit was considered as a criminal offense in India.
Indian Agriculture Law: A Timeline Of The Farmer’s Struggle
Since the declaration of this law, there have been many struggles and rebukes from the farmers condemning these laws. After a year long struggle, on November 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed the bills and the Farm laws Repealed Bill 2021 was cleared in both the Houses of Parliament on November 29, 2021. Let us have a quick look at the timeline of events that took place centering on the Indian Agricultural Law.
June 5, 2021: The Indian government announced three Farm Bills: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. These three Bills of Indian Agriculture Law shift the agricultural industry in India from a Government-operated to a private-operated sector.
September 14, 2020: Ordinance is presented in the Parliament.
September 17, 2020: Ordinance is passed in Lok Sabha.
September 20, 2020: Order is passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote.
September 24, 2020: Farmers in Punjab declared a three-day rail roko.
September 25, 2020: Farmers throughout India take to the streets in respect to a call by the AIKSCC (All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee).
September 27, 2020: Farm Bills are offered presidential assent and informed in the Gazette of India and changes to Indian Agriculture Law.
November 25, 2020: After scattered protests against the latest Indian Agriculture Law, which included a national road blockade on November 3, farmers’ unions in Haryana and Punjab gave the signal for a ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement. The Delhi Police, however, denied their request to enter to the capital city marching citing Covid-19 protocols.
November 26, 2020: Farmers started to march towards Delhi and had to face water cannons, tear gas as the police aimed to disperse the crowd at Ambala district in Haryana. Later, police permitted them to enter Delhi for their peaceful protest at Nirankari ground in North-West Delhi.
November 28, 2020: Home Minister Amit Shah planned to hold talks with farmers as early as they vacate the borders of Delhi and move to the appointed protest site in Burari. However, farmers denied his proposal, asserting to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar.
November 29, 2020: In his “Mann Ki Baat” program, Narendra Modi stated that all political parties had been making fake promises to the farmers but it was his BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government that fulfilled their promises.
December 3, 2020: The government conducted the first round of talks with delegates of farmers but the meeting stayed inconclusive.
December 5, 2020: The second series of talks among farmers and the Centre also stayed inconclusive.
December 8, 2020: Farmers announced for Bharat Bandh. Farmers from several other states also gave their support to the call.
December 9, 2020: The leaders of farmers denied the proposal of the Union government to amend the three contentious laws and pledged to further broaden their agitation until the laws are abolished.
December 11, 2020: Bharatiya Kisan Union shifted to the Supreme Court against the protest of three farm laws.
December 13, 2020: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged the hand of ‘tukde tukde’ gang in the Indian farmer protests and stated that the government was open to speaking with farmers.
December 16, 2020: The Supreme Court stated that it may comprise a panel having representatives of the government and also the farmer unions to finish the deadlock over the contentious agriculture laws.
December 21, 2020: Farmers conducted a one-day hunger strike at all sites of the protest.
December 30, 2020: Sixth round of talks took place between farmer leaders and government witnessed some headway as the Centre approved to exempt farmers from stubble burning penalty and drop alterations in Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020.
January 4, 2021: The seventh turn of talks between farmer leaders and government also stayed inconclusive with the Centre not approving to repeal the Indian Agriculture Law.
January 7, 2021: The Supreme Court approved to hear petitions challenging the latest laws and those condemning the protests on January 11, 2021. This arrives even as Attorney General K K Venugopal said the court that communicates between farmers and the Centre “may just work”.
January 11, 2021: The Supreme Court knocked the Centre for its management of the farmers’ protest. The top court of India said it would create a committee that will be headed by a former Chief Justice of India to solve the deadlock.
January 12, 2021: The Supreme Court remained the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and created a four-member committee to make suggestions on the legislation after hearing all stakeholders.
On that same day, Nodeep Kaur, who was the Dalit labor activist was arrested by Sonipat police on charges of rioting, attempt to murder, and assault to avert a public servant from discharge of his duty under the IPC (Indian Penal Code), among others. As per the police, Nodeep and her associates assaulted a team of police officials that had gone to the Kundli Industrial area after it was informed about the alleged manhandling of staff and management at an industrial unit.
Kaur, who was a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, asserted she was “targeted and falsely implicated” in the scenario as she was successful in offering massive support for the ongoing farmer movement against the three latest Indian Agriculture Law of the Centre.
January 26, 2021: On Republic Day, numerous protests clashed with the police at the time of the tractor parade that was called by farmer unions on January 26, appealing a repeal of the laws.
After various protestors from Ghazipur and Singhu changed their route, they started to march towards Red Fort and the ITO of Central Delhi, where police fell back to tear gas shelling and lathi charge while some farmers affected public property and attacked various police personnel. At Red Fort, a group of protesters climbed walls and poles and hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag. One protester even lost his life in the chaos.
January 28, 2021: Tensions increased at the Ghazipur border in Delhi after the administration in neighboring UP’s Ghaziabad district released orders for protesting farmers to empty the site by night. By evening, as police in anti-riot gear began spreading out at the site, the protesters camped there and their leaders, that included BKU’s Rakesh Tikait, said they would not vacate.
February 4, 2021: The government knocked “celebrities and others” for their comments in support of farmer protests, asserting them “neither accurate nor responsible”. This came after pop icon Rihanna, lawyer-author Meena Harris, and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, rung out on the farmer protests.
February 5, 2021: Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime team has registered an FIR on charges of “criminal conspiracy”, “sedition”, and “promoting hatred” against the creators of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, which Thunberg shared. The 18-year-old deleted his original tweet on Wednesday but tweeted a revised toolkit on the same night.
February 14, 2021: The 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly “editing” the toolkit that was shared by Thunberg.
February 23, 2021: 22-year-old activist Disha Ravi received bail by a sessions court in Delhi.
February 25, 2021: Dalit labor activist Nodeep Kaur was granted release from prison after she was granted bail by the Haryana and Punjab High Court. The bail plea of Kaur came up for hearing before the bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan.
February 26, 2021: Dalit labor activist Nodeep Kaur was granted from prison on Friday after she was offered bail by the Haryana and Punjab High Court.
March 02, 2021: Shiromani Akali Dal who is the chief of Sukhbir Singh Badal and other party leaders were arrested by the Chandigarh Police from Sector 25 as they aimed to march towards the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to gather it on Monday afternoon.
March 05, 2021: The Punjab Vidhan Sabha approved a resolution seeking for the unconditional withdrawal of the Indian Agriculture Law in the interest of Punjab and the farmers, and to prevail with the existing system of government procurement of foodgrains that were based on MSP.
March 06, 2021: Farmers fulfilled 100 days at Delhi’s borders.
March 8, 2021: Gunshots are shot near the Singhu border protest site. Nobody was injured during that time.
April 4, 2021: Few tractor trolleys from the Singhu border come back to Punjab ahead of the harvesting time. Farmers set up sheds constructed of bamboo and shade nets.
July 2021: Nearly 200 protesting farmers began a parallel “Monsoon Session”, Kisan Sansad, close to the Parliament House in July, protesting against the three Indian Agriculture Law. Members of Opposition parties arranged protests in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue within the House complex. They urged the Centre to take away the Indian Agriculture Law and accept the demands that have been laid forward by the farmers. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also reached Parliament on a tractor to show his solidarity with protesting farmers. Parliament proceedings were postponed repeatedly as the Opposition cornered the Centre over Indian Agriculture Law among other problems.
August 7, 2021: Leaders of over 14 opposition parties met at Parliament House and planned to visit Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, where a select group of farmer leaders has been keeping a Kisan Sansad (farmers’ parliament) since July 22 to highlight seven months of the protests at border points of Delhi against the laws. World media covered this protest. Gandhi and the other leaders reaffirmed that the three controversial laws should be withdrawn. Gandhi said,
September 5, 2021: Challenging the NDA that was led by BJP with just months to go for the UP elections, farm leaders conducting the movement against the Indian Agriculture Law at the Centre staged an important show of strength in Muzaffarnagar, declaring in front of thousands of farmers their aim to campaign against the ruling party in the state.
September 11, 2021: Delivering to an end the five-day standoff between farmers and the Karnal district management, the Haryana government approved to conduct a probe by a retired judge of the Haryana and Punjab High Court into the August 28 lathi charge by the police on farmers at the Bastard toll plaza, and send former Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha on leave till the inquiry is completed. The standoff was completed following extensive talks among farmer unions led by Gurnam Singh Chadhuni and the government side that was led by Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh. They later conducted a press conference to declare the agreement.
November 19, 2021: Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares repeal of the Indian Agriculture Law. In an address to the country,
November 29, 2021: Both the Houses of Parliament clean Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, through voice votes without any discussion.
December 8, 2021: The government transmits a draft proposal to the farm unions and states that in light of the concessions that have been proposed that include the unconditional withdrawal of all police scenarios lodged against protesters throughout the agitation there was no justification for the turmoil to continue and requested the unions to call them off.
December 9, 2021: The SKM (Samyukt Kisan Morcha) leaders assembled after getting the official proposition from the government and decided to call off its protest at the borders of Delhi. The farmers left the protest sites on December 11. A ‘Vijay Diwas’ (victory day) was celebrated on the same day at all toll plazas, borders, and protest places throughout the nations, following which the protesters will go back to their states.
The Bottom Line
The Indian Agricultural Law that comprised the three bills of Indian Agriculture Law did not have equal effects on all. It could have been beneficial for some, while it could hurt others. Now the farmers have the right to choose their buyers. Traders can avoid what the legislation of the state government is and can purchase directly from the farmers and create their own connections. The last Framer’s day for the Indian farmers went under protest, but this year it is going under their victory. The main concern regarding the Indian Agriculture Law was that the Indian Government would eventually dismantle the procurement of the state and the MSP transaction on which they are highly dependent.