Saturday, December 4, 2021

Jai Kisan: PM Modi’s masterstroke before UP Elections

700 Farmers should get Ex gratia

Withdrawal of three Acts against farmers is a masterstroke of master politician Narendra Modi. Coupled with apology, his surprising announcement of annulment of anti-farmer laws will surely thwart the negative reputation of BJP as anti-agriculturists party to a great extent especially when Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are going for polls. Modi can ensure more votes if his government decides to pay ex gratia to each and every farmer who lost their lives in this heroic mission against the mighty government.

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It is a historic fact that more than 700 farmers sacrificed their lives to achieve the abolition of three anti-farmer legislations. The agitating farmers have rightly considered Prime Minister’s announcement of withdrawal of three Acts as a tribute to martyrs of the prolonged agitation.  Whether the Modi Government would agree to pay compensation to the martyr farmers?

Who will bear this loss arising out of three black laws that were never seen the light of the day. For corona deaths, the Supreme Court compelled the Centre and States with the mandate of paying each some substantial amount as compensation.

The Supreme Court on October 4, approved the guidelines framed by the National Disaster Management Authority and the Union government on the disbursal of ex-gratia compensation to the families of COVID-19 victims, issuing a number of guidelines to be followed in this regard.The recommendation of an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 had been communicated to the court by the Union government in September. The Supreme Court ordered that no state should deny Rs 50,000 ex gratia to kin of Covid-19 disaster victims. Why not each farmer gets the equal money at least for each death due to corona?

It is essential for the Centre to complete the process of reversal of farmer laws by giving the kin of victims a good amount of money as ex gratia and win the hearts of farmers and of course the votes in UP and Punjab.

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Constitution Day

November 26, the Farmers Agitation in India completes one year and the farmers announced their determination to intensify the protests. November 26 is the day on which Indian Constitution has been totally approved and partly launched, after the Constituent Assembly has given its seal of approval. Before they intensified the agitation, the Centre took a right step, whether for fear of coming elections or for any other reason, which facilitates the Constitution day to be celebrated as democratic victory. Agitation is basic civil right in any democracy which is part of Article 19(1)(a) that guaranteed the freedom of speech and expression. This has saved the farmers and democracy. Prime Minister Modi’s decision is surely welcome. The farmers are happy that PM understood their stand. But Tikait announced that ‘dharna’ would continue until the three laws are repealed and MSP is declared.The PM could have gained more positive points if he also paid tributes to martyrs and offered ex-gratia. The Acts – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 will be cancelled in coming session of Parliament. The Supreme Court stayed their operation, in January 2020.

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On protest for almost a year

Farmers from Haryana, Punjab and some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been camping at Delhi borders for almost a year now. Even after ‘stay’ the farmer unions haven’t stepped back from protest sites like Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur at the Delhi border. The Centre had held 11 rounds of formal dialogues with the farmers, but maintained that the new laws are pro-farmer, though  protesters did not agree.

The PM’s apologised, surely a good gesture. He said: “I apologise if some farmers did not understand what we wanted to do through the farm laws”. He reiterated: The three farm laws were brought in specially to support small farmers. So that they get more options and better price for their produce. Every farmer in the country and kisan organisations welcomed the farm laws. I thank all of them today……Our intent was pure. But we could not convince some farmers. We tried our best to explain these laws to the farmers. We spoke, we discussed and we tried to convince them. The government was ready to rework these laws. A lot has happened in two years…”

Could not convince farmers

He said that his government has not been been able to convince farmers, and stressed that a section of them continued opposing even when the government tried to educate and inform them.”We tried our best to explain to farmers. We were even ready to modify the laws, suspend them too. The matter reached the Supreme Court as well.””One lakh crore have been given to farmers as compensation. Bima and pension too have been provided. There has been direct benefit transfer as well for the farmers,” he added.

Farmer leaders said: This victory is a tribute to the martyrs of this movement. Their sacrifices energised this movement. Between two Constitution days, the difference is that before the farmer laws were withdrawn 700 farmers lost their lives, which could have been saved had there been no such laws. The murders at LakhimpuriKheriwere the worst.

The Supreme Court on 17 Nov 2021 appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain former Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on October 3 wherein 8 persons were killed, including 4 farmers, who were mowed down by the vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Mishra.

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SC decision on Lakhimpur Kheri probe

The Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli during hearing of “In Re Violence In Lakhimpur Kheri(UP) Leading To Loss Of Life| WP(Crl) No.426/2021”observedthat it has included three IPS Officers in the Special Investigation Team constituted by the UP Police to investigate the case. “Mr SB Shirodkar, Mr Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan, these three police officers will be there in SIT and it stands reconstituted. The investigation will be continued by SIT under the monitoring of the learned judge”, the CJI said.The Bench had expressed dissatisfaction with many aspects of the probe by the Uttar Pradesh Police -dissatisfied with the lack of seriousness, disappointed that the forensic lab reports regarding the video evidence have not yet come and that the mobile phones of all accused have not been seized.The bench had expressed concerns about the case against the prime accused in the case relating to attack on farmers being diluted by clubbing the investigation with the counter-case of mob lynching.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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