Farmers Protest: History

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 369

Toll 686


Last year when farmers left Panjab for Delhi, were supported by Haryana, broke barriers and served langar to police, their resolve on Farm Laws was clear: Yes or No. Every one who was part of the protests was clear they were going to push the government to take back the draconian laws.

Yet, we all know, the ask was too much. The push back was a major challenge to the Hindutva strong arm politics which the country had suffered last six years. Plus there was the knowledge that PM Modi had never taken back any law in his whole life. This government position was matched by the resolve of the protesters that brought an extra spark to their eyes.

In the rest of India some supported the protests, some criticised the protests, others hemmed and hawed. All waited with baited breath for the outcome of this non-violent confrontation between powers and people. The year was tumultuous, to say the least.

In north India, especially Panjab, the narrative invoked an earlier resistance towards the British bringing in draconian laws. In 1906, the British brought the Doab Bari Water Tax and Punjab Colonization Act, riding on the unpopular Punjab Land Alienation Act implemented in 1901. These new laws were intended to make farming difficult for the farmers of the Canal colonies and force them to surrender their lands to the British. We can see the parallels between those laws by British 115 years back with the new Farm Laws.

When the British implemented their draconian laws, Sardar Ajit Singh along with Kishan Singh, (Bhagat Singh’s father), Ghasita Ram, Sufi Amba Prasad and others rallied the farmers in Lyallpur against the British. Banke Dayal, editor of Jang Syal weekly gave the slogan ‘Pagri Sambhal Jutta’ which was part of his longer poem. Finally, the protesters won and the British had to take back their anti-people laws. Similarly, in 1922, upon popular uprising, the British were forced to take back the Rowlatt Act, Press Act and other laws.

The nature of power never changes. Power is based on disenfranchising people. People have to resist their eviction. Just like the farmers in 2021 are inspired by the farmers of 1907, may the people in 2121 be inspired by our generation today. The repeal tells us that wrong laws can be pushed back. Even after they are enacted. May this knowledge continue to inspire us.

We will watch history being made again today in the Parliament when the government repeals the draconian Farm Laws. After all, democracy means more power to people. May Pagri Sambhal Jutta be a rallying call for every citizen to live with dignity.

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