The year of 2020 and 2021 witnessed the sustained rise of farmer protests across India, as thousands of farmers from Punjab and neighboring states formed a united front against the three farm laws proposed by the ruling government. These laws were framed around the agenda of big companies seizing the livelihoods of farmers’ for their own profit. With the fear of losing their occupation and being placed in a vulnerable position by these oppressive policies, the farmers rose against them. The year-long protest movement constantly garnered criticism from various mainstream media platforms that echoed the government’s narrative, villainizing the farmers for exercising dissent. In this video, Harpreet Singh, the Block leader of the Kisan Union in Singhru, Punjab, and Satpal Chopra, a member of the Hind Kisan Sabha, talk about the protest movement and the narrative built around it. Their perspective highlight the motive, strategy behind the movement, and the many emotions of unity, community and frustration that led them to protest in solidarity against the three farm laws.
The protest by the farmers against the three farm bills in 2020-2021 was one of the biggest and the longest ever seen in modern times. One of the most important reasons for its success was how it brought together different people from different strata of the society together. By following Sikh tradition and espousing Sikh symbolism of valor, sacrifice and courage, and combining it with methods of Satyagraha, the farmers involved themselves in one of the most successful protests of recent times. This video explores these aspects of the protests, by looking into the role of different unions, volunteers or Sewadars, and langars.
Farmers across India encountered great resistance in their protest against the three Farm Bills introduced (later repealed) by the current Union government. In this video, voices of protestors from the field express how the three laws did great injustice to them, and how the “godi media”- the section of media which blindly supports the government propaganda, portrayed the (protesting) farming community inaccurately, further eroding the ‘kisan-sarkar’ trust compact.
To maintain a large protest movement for months outside the nation’s capital over a frigid winter and scorching summer is no easy task. For such a demonstration to be sustained, there was extensive preparation and organization. Winter clothes, places to sleep, food, drink, electricity, laundry, medical services, bathrooms, libraries, and regular programs are all needed by the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who had arrived from outside the region, some of whom have traveled hundreds of kilometers. Farmers depended on decentralized organizations with their own leadership structures to combine and establish the critical mass necessary when the movement first began. The farmers’ revolt gives the first important lesson in decentralized leadership. There was no single organization for the government to attack because of the nature of the leadership. Both protestors and local people have received langar (sustenance food) as a consequence of the protestors’ consciousness. There is mutual elevation and a sense of radical connection and commitment to one another, regardless of differences. Throughout the day, farmers protesting the new legislation that liberalizes processes for selling agricultural goods to private firms received hot meals from makeshift kitchens put up by the side of the road. A lady stood behind each farmer, tending to the langar’s flames. The difficulties of sustaining a popular movement include elderly ladies working tractors, mothers leaving small children at home, and people camping without appropriate personal hygiene.