A contingent of women farmers from Delhi’s neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana gathered on Monday at Jantar Mantar in the national capital for the ‘Kisan Sansad’ marking the completion of eight months of the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws.
Nearly 200 in strength, as allowed by the Delhi government, the women protested at Jantar Mantar and raised slogans demanding the scrapping of the three farm laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The farmers, who have stayed put at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur borders since last November, have now planned to protest against the Centre and also conduct ‘Kisan Sansads’ under the banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on each working day of the Parliament until the ongoing Monsoon Session ends. They want to enhance pressure on the Centre to heed to their demands.
On Monday, the focus of the farmers’ parliament (Sansad) was the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and the farmers’ demand for the enactment of a law guaranteeing remunerative minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.
The women’s ‘Kisan Sansad’ was moderated by Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) leader Subhasini Ali. It commenced with the singing of the national anthem, followed by the observation of a two-minute silence in the memory of the farmers who have died during the eight-month agitation. “Today’s Sansad will showcase the strength of women. Women can farm as well run the country, and today everybody here is a politician,” she said.
Asserting that the farmers’ protest against the three “black laws” and their demand for MSP will continue, Ali said, “The government keeps calling us (farmers) by different names like terrorists, Khalistanis, etc. but if they have the strength, then they should not eat the food produced by these terrorists and Khalistanis.”
Another participant, Nav Kiran, demanded the withdrawal of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, claiming it was “anti-woman, anti-poor, and anti-common man”.
Explaining how the law was anti-woman, she said, “We have seen how the prices of cooking oil and cooking gas have gone up because of this law. It will not allow women the scope to save whatever little money they could manage to earlier from their monthly expenses.”
Actress and activist Gul Panag, who attended the ‘Kisan Sansad’, said with the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, the government has made the original law passed in 1955 “toothless”.
“The new law will promote hoarding and black marketing. What people are not understanding is that this new law will not affect the farmers but the middle class,” she said.
“A resolution was passed unanimously in the Women Farmers’ Parliament that despite the immense contribution of women to Indian agriculture, they do not have the dignity and status that they ought to – in the farmers’ movement, the role of women farmers has to be strengthened through well thought-out steps,” the SKM said in a press statement on Monday.
It added that the Mahila Kisan Sansad on Monday also resolved unanimously to have a 33% reservation for women in the Parliament and state legislatures.