India’s farmers call off their year-long protest against the Modi government

Upper hand.
Upper hand.
Image: REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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Thousands of India’s farmers today (Dec. 9) finally called off their year-long protest over a bunch of demands, including the withdrawal of three controversial farm laws.

“We have decided to suspend our agitation. We will hold a review meeting on Jan. 15. If the government doesn’t fulfil its promises, we could resume our agitation,” farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni told the media.

The development comes in the wake of the Narendra Modi government accepting all their demands. This includes compensating families of farmers who died during the massive protest.

The government has also assured them that it will table the electricity amendment bill only after consultation with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmers’ unions, and other farmer bodies.

Earlier in the day, farmers were seen removing their tents from protest sites, signalling the end of their movement.

The government’s decision to accede to their demands has come after prime minister Modi’s announcement last month about the repeal of the three farm laws.

The laws that sparked the protest

The farmers launched the protest on Nov. 26, 2020, against the three farm laws that were hastily passed in September 2020, fuelling worries over a decline in legislative scrutiny. On Nov. 29 this year, the Indian parliament passed a bill without a debate to withdraw the three laws. The laws were passed in 2020 also without a debate.

The protesters believed the laws favour only industrialists like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, widely perceived as being close to Modi.

They further alleged that the laws have been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for large corporations, eliminating safeguards for farmers and leaving them vulnerable.