Massive Farmer Protests are Unfolding From Punjab to TN. India Has Problems Beyond Bollywood’s Drug Habits

Social Commentary

Massive Farmer Protests are Unfolding From Punjab to TN. India Has Problems Beyond Bollywood’s Drug Habits

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The biggest news story in the country today is the all-India Bharat Bandh being called by farmers, though you wouldn’t be able to guess if you went by TV news channels. The nation’s farmers and farmers’ unions are protesting the Centre’s three agricultural reform bills, which were passed in Parliament this month. The farmers’ greatest complaint with these new bills is the provision which will allow private markets to be set up outside the physical boundaries of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees’ (APMC) mandis. Farmers feel that this will lead to the erosion of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system APMCs offer, and concentrate power in the hands of private traders. As the government pushes ahead with passing the bills, farmers have announced nationwide protests against these reforms, demanding that MSP be made their legal right.

Across India, farmers have turned up en masse to protest, leading to visuals unseen during all six months of the lockdown after the coronavirus hit. Right before lockdown was imposed, there were widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, another unpopular bill introduced by the government. Now, as the country looks toward unlocking, protests of a similar scale are being held across the country. Punjab and Haryana are currently witnessing the largest protests, with farmers announcing a “Rail Roko” campaign.

Farmers have also taken to blocking roads, like the highway linking Patiala and Chandigarh.

Farmers have poured onto the streets.

In UP, many protests have sprung up, in places like Shahjahanpur, Kheri, Bijnor, and Kanpur.

In neighbouring Bihar as well, protests have sprung up, with political leaders joining the demonstration.

Himachal Pradesh is also seeing farmers voicing their demands.

It’s not just north India that is seeing farmers’ protests on this scale. Even in South India, there are huge gatherings, with visuals from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu showing how wide-ranging the opposition to the bills is.

In Gujarat and Maharashtra as well, protests are being held against the Centre’s new reforms.

Even in the northeast regions, farmers are not happy.

The number of farmers from different states participating in the protests continues to grow, making this one of the most significant movements of public dissatisfaction against the current regime. However, if you look at some of the most-watched news channels in the country, this is the kind of content you can expect.

It’s enough to make you wonder whether Indian media practises journalism, or parodies it.