Archive for July, 2021


Farmers Protest: Cloak and Dagger Government

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 248

Toll 548

Cloak and Dagger Government

Right from when Samyukt Kisan Morcha got together last November. Right from when they presented their four core demands, we all knew them. They are repeal Farm Laws, implement MSP on all crops, withdraw Electricity Ordinance, do not bring in the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Law.

Yet, when the government met SKM on December 30, 2020, and stated it will not focus on Electricity Ordinance and Air Quality Management Law, those two original demands fell out of the discourse. Though nothing was written or signed, everyone took the words of the Agriculture Minister as a commitment.

Though, of course, we should have known better. This government constantly tries to misinterpret the wordings of laws, articles of Constitution, all the time goes back on its words, made jumla into a viable Manifesto point, why would it stick to a verbal commitment? Yet, the nature of the protest, its dynamics, it wear and tear over 8 months, kept us from mentioning the Electricity Ordinance and Air Quality Management Law again and again.

Yesterday, as I started looking at activities at Singhu and other borders, I learnt that the Electricity Ordinance was listed to be presented as a Bill in Parliament. But this government is such a shape shifting entity that in an open democracy, when norms of disclosure of items in the Parliament must be followed so all members can do their homework, it indulges in proxy war.

Yesterday, it did not bring in the Electricity Ordinance but while Opposition was demanding debate on government use of Pegasus spyware, it quietly sneaked in The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2021.

We all know NCR air is polluted. We all support NCR cleaning up its air. But a law in NCR that applies to Haryana, Panjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh? What kind of a law is that when multiple panels have conclusively proved that industrial pollution in NCR is the main reason for pollution? One of whose most contested items is related to paddy stubble burning in Panjab and the fine levied on farmers is up to Rs. 1 crore and/or jail up to 5 years.

Just so tired, exhausted by the cloak and dagger acts of this government. Yet, that is what the government wants – to tire us so we stop resisting. No, that will not happen.


Kisan Sansad: Day 7

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Kisan Sansad

Day 7

Since the Electricity Bill 2020 was listed in the main Parliament today, the farmers took up the issue at the Farmers’ Parliament. However, turns out the Lok Sabha has been adjourned until Monday, Rajya Sabha until 2.30 pm today. The reason is Opposition in both Houses demanding a debate on the Pegasus spyware the government has used to spy on journalists, their own ministers, government officials, even Opposition leaders. It is a valid demand but BJP is not agreeing on a debate on the matter.

Instead, the BJP is trying to ask Opposition to let the House function. Half the Monsoon Session is over. Nothing much has happened in the Houses. Time to remind BJP of its own statements from the 15th Lok Sabha, 2009-2014, UPA II government and BJP major Opposition. Historically, that Parliament was the most disrupted by BJP – Lok Sabha worked for 61% and Rajya Sabha for 66% of its scheduled time.

Here is what the BJP leaders said then:

January 30, 2011 – Then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley was quoted as saying in Ranchi – “Parliament’s job is to conduct discussions. But many a time, Parliament is used to ignore issues and in such situations, obstruction of Parliament is in the favour of democracy. Therefore parliamentary obstruction is not undemocratic.”

August 26, 2012 – Jaitley outside Parliament – “There are occasions when an obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefits to the country… Our strategy does not permit us to allow the government to use Parliament (for debate) without being held accountable… we do not want to give the government an escape route through debate.”

September 7, 2012 – leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had said – “Not allowing parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form.”

September 2012, Sushma Swaraj — “We had to stall Parliament to expose the government and its corruption. Anyway, it is the government’s job to run the Parliament, not that of the opposition.”

Tumhara kutta kutta, mera kutta Tommy?

Speakers and Deputy Speakers:

Session I:
Kirpa Singh and Balbir Singh Chillar

Session II:
Harjit Singh and Balraj Singh Malik

Session III:
Bichitra Singh Kotla and Rishiraj Patel

Quotes source: Outlook

Click here for some pictures and videos in comments.


Farmers Protest: Fisheries Bill

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 246

Toll 548

Fisheries Bill

After farmers and agriculture, the government is now moving to trap fisherfolk and fisheries. The government has listed the Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021 for the Monsoon Session.

According to latest statistics, India has around 4 million fishermen. Approximately 61 per cent of them are below Below Poverty Line (BPL). There are 3,288 marine fishing villages and 1,511 marine fish landing centres in 9 maritime states and 2 union territories.

The irony is, none of them were consulted when the new Bill was framed. Here is a brief overview of terms used in this piece:

- 1 Nautical Mile – 1.83 kilometre
- Territorial zone – 12 nautical miles (nm) from shore baseline
- Contiguous zone – 12 nm from end of territorial zone
- Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – 200 nm from end of territorial zone


Fishing is permitted on country craft boats within 5 nautical miles (nm) and on mechanised vessels between 5 and 12 nm. Over the years, as the availability of fish reduced in the terrestrial sea, fishermen on both country craft boats and mechanised vessels have moved far beyond the 12 nm mark. The state governments have control up to 12 nm from the base line, while the rest is vested with the Union government.

The fishermen depend on the continental shelf area and the EEZ because of the availability of fish in the terrestrial sea is shrinking. Over the years, there has been a drastic decline in fishing resources in the Indian ocean owing to destructive fishing practice by trawlers, climatic changes, the continental plate drift during the 2004 tsunami, and excess fishing by international long liners in the EEZ.

The Bill:

The Bill proposes to only grant licenses to vessels registered under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, to fish in the EEZ. It also puts the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in charge of Monitoring Control and Surveillance, and heavy penalties for fishermen breaching the EEZ without a licence, not complying with ICG orders, and obstructing ICG officials. While it is true that some species of fish are protected and must not be fished, the mechanics of fishing is such that the fishermen can’t be selective when they throw the net to catch fish.

The fishermen use catamarans, country boats, fibre boats and mechanised vessels based on their financial condition, he said, adding that most fishermen are poor, and use country boats and fibre boats. The Bill lacks clarity on the varieties of boats to be registered. Obtaining a license is difficult, the charges are high, there are annual fees, fitness certificates need to be renewed, and on top of all this, the penalties are unaffordable for poor fishermen.

While it is good that the new Bill restricts foreign vessels from entering the EEZ, but in effect what this would mean is corporates backed by international fishing agencies would be encouraged.


The Bill is being brought in clearly so the government can make money by licensing foreign funded corporates. Traditional fishermen will suffer because corporate fishing will empty the seas. The Bill would impoverish 90 per cent of traditional fishermen, and benefit corporates waiting to monopolise the ocean’s fishing resources.

The Bill violates the Constitutional guarantees of the right to life and personal liberty, and the right against exploitation enshrined in Articles 21 and 23. In fact, a similar Bill was proposed by the Congress government in 2009 but was shelved amid opposition from the fishing community. But now, the BJP government has made a few modifications and drafted the Bill again.

More of the same? Just because the government has brute majority in the Lok Sabha?


Farmers Protest: Electricity Bill

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 244

Toll 546+

Electricity Bill

Yesterday, with women running the show, was glorious at the Kisan Sansad. The women demonstrated how the Parliament can be run with dignity and discipline. They condemned how the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 encourages hoarding and passed two resolutions: one for the need of well-thought-out measures to increase the role and space for women in the Kisan Andolan; another on 33% representation in Parliament and Assemblies on the pattern of local bodies like Panchayats and Municipal Committees.

Yesterday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha held a press conference in Lucknow and announced the launch of Mission Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand from Lucknow. The Mission is to intensify and strengthen the farmers’ agitation in the next phase of the struggle. There will be a Mahapanchayat at Muzaffarnagar on September 5th and farmer activities will certainly impact the upcoming UP elections in February 2022.

Today is Day 4 of the Kisan Sansad. The focus will be on the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. Ideally, the Parliament of the country, where we send our elected representatives is supposed to be a space we look up to expectantly to make laws which benefit the society at large. However, such is our tragedy as a democracy that the functioning of the Parliament worries us.

The worry this time is that the government, having committed to drop the Electricity Ordinance in talks with farmers early December, is all set to bring up the The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the ongoing Monsoon session. If that happens, if the Electricity Bill is introduced, what would you say about the hypocrisy of the government?

Is this a ploy to enrage the farmers further? Is this a measure to assert who has power in our democracy? Is it being done to teach the farmers a lesson?

What would the lesson be? That you can continue suffering on Delhi’s borders for eight months, we do not care about you, we do not keep count of your dead, but privatisation of all sectors, to benefit crony capitalists who fund us, will continue.

If the Bill is introduced, if government does not uphold its commitment to farmers made earlier, tell me why would farmers believe the PM saying: ‘MSP was there, is there, will be there’? MSP isn’t even a law.

If the Bill is introduced, it will be a real shame for whatever we call democracy in our country. If that does not inspire us to extend our solidarity to the farmers protest, I do not know what will. It simply means all the wrongs that the government does has our sanction. Well, not mine.


Farmers Protest: 8 months

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 243

Toll 546+

8 months

At eight months, today the farmers protest is just one month short of the Pagdi Sambhal Jutta farmers protest in 1907. At that time, the British had backed off, repealed the draconian Doab Bari Act, Punjab Land Colonisation Act and the Punjab Land Alienation Act. Let us see if the Indian government is kinder than the cruel British.

The demands for Women’s reservation in the Parliament is pending since 1993. On 9th March, 2010 the Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, to reserve 1/3rd of all seats in the Lok Sabha and in all state legislative assemblies for women.

The seats were proposed to be reserved in rotation and would have been determined by draw of lots in such a way that a seat would be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections. However, the Bill never reached the Lok Sabha for a vote.

That is why, to mark the eighth monthsary of the farmers protests, today’s Kisan Sansad will be entirely run by women farmers and activists. Nearly 75% of the full-time workers on Indian farms are women. They produce up to 80 per cent of the country’s food. Yet, less than 12 per cent of them own land.

The Kisan Sansad is a symbolic protest site. The reason women will run the Kisan Sansad today is because women have a right not only in the Parliament, in state assemblies, but even in homes and property. It is a symbolic gesture – the hope is women’s rights become a reality.

More strength to women!



Farmers’ Protest: NSA

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 242

Toll 546+


We know that despite all odds, the Kisan Sansad, the Farmers’ Parliament has been a huge success in its first two days. Tomorrow, is Day 3 which will be fully run by women. It has been decades since women have been asking for less than proportionate representation in the real Parliament (33 per cent) but that has not happened. Now, at the Farmers’ Parliament they get tomorrow and come back again in a few days.

Last few days, in solidarity with the Kisan Sansad, other protesters, some Delhi citizens, have also been trying to reach the Jantar Mantar. Yet, the police has kept the Sansad out of the reach of people, even media. Except for farmers’ own media, rest of the media is stopped a couple of score meters away from the Sansad venue. All they gets is bytes at the end of the day.

One wishes they could relay the live feed of proceedings at the Sansad. The people of the country could see how proceedings are conducted, how decorum is maintained, how turn is awaited, how dissent is recorded. Sadly, the government of India does not want people to be inspired by a well conducted Sansad.

Now, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has issued a notification, granting power to the Police Commissioner to apprehend anyone under National Security Act (NSA) till 18th October 2021. Why is this permission granted? Who will it be used against? Why is it until October 18 and not just until the end of Parliament Monsoon Session?

There are no answers. This is what the textbook says about NSA:

The National Security Act is an act that empowers the government to detain a person if the authorities are satisfied that he/she is a threat to national security or to prevent him/her from disrupting public order.

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi brought the National Security Act in on 23 September, 1980. Under this act, a person can be detained for up to 12 months without a charge. A person can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them. The person can appeal before a high court advisory board but will not be allowed a lawyer during the trial.
The NSA Act 1980 has its roots in the colonial era. In 1818, Bengal Regulation III was enacted to empower the British government to arrest anyone for maintenance of public order without giving the person recourse to judicial proceedings.

Interestingly, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which collects crime data in India, does not include cases under the NSA as no FIRs are registered.

If NSA is for farmers, the government needs to know when farmers come for the Kisan Sansad, they are prepared to be arrested. Of course, they have the backing of the Unions but there are no guarantees. Do you think they would really be concerned about under which law they are being arrested?

Seriously, the government needs to do better. Nothing it tries works: not threats, not barricades, not hooliganism, not even laws. For the voice of the free (wo)man transcends all barriers.


Farmers Protest: Opposition

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 241

Toll 546+


Before we get to the heading a brief update on yesterday’s Kisan Sansad. After two days of deliberations, the members of the Kisan Sansad voted against the ‘Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020′. Before that the Agriculture Minister, Ravneet Singh Brar, resigned after failing to answer the questions of the members of the House.

Brar is from Bharti Kisan Union, Kadian. No, he has not resigned from the Union, he symbolically resigned as Agricultural Minister from the mock People’s or Farmer’s Parliament to send out a message. Now isn’t that an excellent model to present to the country? That a minister who can’t answer question, actually resigns? Democracy is run on debate not brute force of numbers.

Now to heading:

‘Where is the Opposition in the Kisan Sansad?’ ask the bhakta. ha ha ha. For seven years the BJP has worked hard using advanced surveillance and huge money power to eliminate Opposition from the country. Owing to Congress low performance in 2014 and 2019, the BJP did not even allow a leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Now bhaktas come crying: where is the Opposition in the Kisan Sansad. So innocent, so hypocritical!

But where is the Opposition?

The Opposition is all around the makeshift tent the farmers have erected to hold their Kisan Sansad on the road. The Opposition is spread in layer after layer of security barricades, Varun water canons, automatic guns in the hands of security personnel, and a few hundred meters across at the real Parliament House.

The Opposition is in the legislatives who passed the draconian anti-farmer Farm laws. The Opposition is in the opposition parties who walked out of the Rajya Sabha when the Bills were tabled and let them be bulldozed through the Parliament by a nominal voice vote. The Opposition is in the muffled lapdog media. The Opposition is in how the government has tied the long arm of justice in the country.

Has that Opposition – the government – offered to come and address the farmers at their Sansad?

So, please, do not gaslight. The Kisan Sansad is a new mode of protest. The beauty is, while protesting, the farmers are creating a model for how the real Parliament must be run by taking ownership of actions, being accountable to citizens of the country, which the BJP cannot do.


Farmers Protest: The Gap

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 240

Toll 546+

The Gap

If farmer leader accounts yesterday are to be believed, there were 40000 police personnel to prevent 200 farmers from reaching Jantar Mantar to conduct their Kisan Sansad. That is a ratio of 200 : 1. Imagine so much khakhi! I am sure, now given the devastation of Central Vista, there was more khakhi than trees. Yet, despite police delaying the farmer buses, treating them with suspicion, checking them for bombs and arms, the farmers prevailed. The Kisan Sansad took place and gloriously.

I am sure many will try to theorise how it was possible. Many would put forth many arguments in favour and against but to me there is one observation: every farmer was clear that either they would reach Jantar Mantar or court arrest. That resolve, that fearlessness about being arrested is what saw them through. No one panicked and if another farmer leader is to be believed, until yesterday 10,000 farmers had registered to go to the Kisan Sansad. After its Day 1 success, I am sure the numbers would increase manifold.

Yet, media won’t report it for two reasons. One, media is compromised; two, media was not allowed to come close to the Kisan Sansad being conducted on the road. The barricades were more than 25 meters away. This is the gap.

With this regime, there is always a gap in everything they say and do. Permission not allowed, last minute permission allowed. After permission, farmers subjected to intense scrutiny. Permission for Kisan Sansad, no permission for march. Media not allowed. The list is long …

Poll promises to betrayals, budgets to economic slowdown, Jan Dhan to vaccines, schemes to frauds, foreign policy to international loss of face. There is nothing that this government says that can be taken on face value. They are always slip of tongue. Yesterday, a minister called the farmers hooligans and then retracted. This is the gap which has caused loss of trust between citizens and government. This is the trust deficit.

In any case, what worries any government most is legitimacy of representation. The question that gnaws at them is: are they genuinely people’s representatives or have they manipulated the people to be in power? This is true for all dictatorial regimes at all times. The history of the world is replete with examples from Soviet Union to South Americas to Middle East.
With all developmental indices crashed, with the COVID-19 catastrophe that the government has blatantly denied, with use of spying technology on all opponents, even CBI and judges, I sense the Kisan Sansad has now laid bare the government.

Yesterday, the BJP in Haryana bowed and freed illegally arrested protestors. There are now calls for other protests – to free those wrongfully imprisoned – at Jantar Mantar. Irrespective of whether they will be allowed, the farmers have certainly presented yet another model of resistance because finally democracy can only be reclaimed by democracy.

Picture: Kisan Ekta Morcha. For a moment, yesterday the gap between protesters and media was narrow.  See here … Then it became scores of meters.



Farmers Protest: Permission

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 239

Toll 546


Late night, the Delhi government allowed the Kisan Sansad – Farmers Parliament to be conducted at the Jantar Mantar lawns. The police will pick 200 Samyukt Kisan Morcha and 6 Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee delegates every morning and bring them to the venue.

The mock Parliament will run from 11 am to 5 pm, every day of the main Parliament monsoon session. However, no march will be allowed. This was reported in most mainstream media outlets last night. The SKM response is awaited.

No one, least of all I, wants a confrontation. At this stage, after eight months in the struggle, after the demand clearly stated – repeal Farm Laws and legalise MSP – after the government adamant that no talks will include provision to repeal laws, this seems like a minor victory for farmers.

This is classic neo-liberalism: keep dissent contained, do not let it upturn the cart, make allowance for limited dissent. Someone once explained neo-liberalism and protest spaces to me: it is like a pressure cooker with allowance for whistles. In fact, whistles tell us when the broth is cooked. That is exactly what has happened here.

Also, notice that though right from the beginning KMSC was not with SKM, now it is openly negotiating with the government. Yes, the events of January 26 drove a wide a gap between them. But six months have passed, the gaps could have been bridged.

Meanwhile, some people claiming to be BJP workers got into confrontation with farmers from Singhu protest site at the Western Peripheral Highway. The farmers repelled them. Baldev Singh Sirsa’s hunger strike unto death at Sirsa, Haryana has entered the fifth day today. He is demanding that five youth farmers arrested under charges of sedition be released. His health is weakening, the pressure on administration is mounting.


Farmers Protest: Mock Parliament

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 238

Toll 543+

Mock Parliament

From tomorrow, until the end of the Monsoon session, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha will send 200 delegates each day to Jantar Mantar to protest the 3 anti-farmer Farm Laws and demand legalisation of MSP.

At the protest venue, the farmers will conduct Mock Parliament. Urban middle class must be accustomed to Mock Parliament, mock UN when children participate in such activities at school. Those activities are designed to give children a sense of real democracy. However, we know real democracy is inverted in our country.

That is why, at the protest site, through the Mock Parliament, famers will present a model of how the Parliament should be run. How debates should be conducted, how proceedings must be followed, how Bills must not be bulldozed. This will be a lesson for the nation.

The Delhi Police has still not given permission. In the eventuality of being barred from conducting the Mock Parliament, the farmers have decided to court arrest. One by one, day after day. Let us see which jails are big enough to hold them, which laws are draconian enough to keep them in prison.

Meanwhile, Baldev Singh Sirsa’s hunger strike unto death at Sirsa, Haryana has entered the fourth day today. He is demanding that five youth farmers arrested under charges of sedition be released. He has said: either farmers will be released or I will be released (from life).