Farmer’s Protest in India – Is the World Watching?

Davinder Singh, Advocate
LLM, King’s College London

For more than six months now, Indian farmers have been peacefully protesting on Delhi roads against the 3 farm acts passed by the Indian Parliament in September 2020. These acts have been often termed as ‘anti-farmer laws’ or ‘controversial laws’ as it would place the Indian farmers at the mercy of corporate giants. The eleven rounds of talks that took place between Central Government and the Indian farmers regarding the farm acts resulted in a deadlock. The fundamental issue with the farm acts is its inclination towards ‘commercial farming’ and deregulating of crop pricing, where minimum price for crops will not be guaranteed and farmers will not get the assured price for their crops. These acts entitle farmers to liaise directly with the large corporations and bear the financial loss if they fail to meet the needs of the business. The Indian Constitution provides Right to Freedom to all its citizens. Instead of ensuring its people the access to basic Fundamental Rights, Government erected barricades and fences around protest sites to restrict the movement of peaceful protesters, internet services have been shut down, power and water supply has been cut making it difficult for the farmers at protest site. Farmers either have access to portable toilets or they have to go to fields in the dark walking kilometres finding a safe place, making it difficult for elderly people and women. Furthermore, journalists covering the Framers Protest have been charged with the offence of sedition, twitter has been instructed to suspend the tweets on Farmers protest. Delhi Government offered help but the barbed wires, cement fencing, iron spikes prevented them to reach out the farmers. The private organisations and NGO’s have come to the rescue of farmers providing them with the basic amenities such as food, shelter, medicines etc. This ruthless treatment of protesting farmers which included elderly, women, children, young people prompted the International Community to interfere in the ongoing protest. The office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on authorities for exercising maximum restraint and protection of right to peaceful assembly and expression both offline and online. The Biden administration asked the Indian authorities to recognise the peaceful protest. Even the international celebrities like Rihanna, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and several others came out in the support of protesting farmers. Instead of sensationalising the peaceful protest as a ‘global conspiracy’, the Indian authorities should find equitable solutions with due respect to Human Rights for all.