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Bharat Bandh-like protest could see repeat of 2017 Mandsaur when 6 farmers died — RSS affiliate

Badri Narayan Choudhary, general secretary of RSS affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, tells ThePrint they support the farmers' demands but will not be part of the Bharat Bandh tomorrow.

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New Delhi: Blaming the agriculture ministry for failing to communicate with farmers, the RSS affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has warned that the agitation could turn into a Mandsaur-like situation, which had resulted in six farmers being killed in 2017.

The organisation has decided not to be part of the Bharat Bandh (strike) called by farmers unions but has supported the concerns raised by the protesting farmers, especially that of MSP (minimum support price) being guaranteed in the open market too.

The RSS-affiliated farmer body has demanded a fourth law that will ensure MSP is made a legal entity and is also applicable to the open market.

Speaking to ThePrint, BKS general secretary Badri Narayan Choudhary said the agriculture ministry is to be blamed for its lack of dialogue with the farmers, due to which the situation has spiralled.

“On 5 June when the ordinances had come, BKS was the first to raise its voice against it. We held protests and demonstrations; we wrote letters to the agriculture minister and PM Modi,” he said. “We met the agriculture minister too.”

Choudhary asserted that the body will not be part of the Bharat Bandh. “We support the farmers but not the Bharat Bandh. BKS, in the past 40 years, has never participated in a violent movement,” he said. “We don’t believe in damaging government property or causing inconvenience to people. We fear that these types of movements can always take a violent form… Bad elements can always enter these protests. That is why we were not part of the protest.”

Choudhary, however, reiterated that they support the demands being raised by the unions. “Our fight is not different; we are also demanding the same thing as farmers’ unions are,” he added. “But when they have decided to have a dialogue then protesting is not the right thing to do. They have decided that they will meet (government representatives) on 9 December then why have a protest on 8th? If after the 9th, they decided to call a strike even we would have discussed it then.”

Choudhary said some anti-social elements and some political parties are using the protests to cause unrest in the country. “We fear that a Mandsaur-like situation will be repeated where six farmers lost their lives. Those who led those protests became MLAs and ministers,” he said. “Kisano ko marwaane ka kaam nahi karna chaiye. This protest is not led by a single organisation or political party. When there are multiple players, the situation can always get out of hand.”

Six farmers were killed in police firing when a massive protest broke out in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, in June 2017, when farmers took to the streets demanding a better price for their produce. 

‘Want a fourth law’

For the last 10 days, several farmers’ organisations from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting at the Delhi borders against the three three farm bills that the Narendra Modi government passed in September. 

One of their major demands is that MSP for crops be made a legal provision to assure a better price to farmers. The government has been in talks with the protesting farmers but has not been able to resolve the situation so far.

Choudhary said agriculture and mandis are issues for which law can be made only by the states. “These are not agriculture laws but business or traders laws. This is for the industry,” he said. “We have not demanded that these laws should be withdrawn; rather we want a fourth law and all those aspects that were left out, especially MSP, should be included. They should also initiate dialogue with the farmers before enacting it.”

The organisation has also said a legal mechanism should be developed under which action could be taken against traders if they don’t pay the farmer. “In case there is any dispute, the DM and SDM won’t have the time to resolve the issues. We want a court under the law to decide and resolve all disputes arising between the farmers and the traders,” he added.

Also read: Thatcher or Anna moment? Why Modi’s choice on farmers’ protest will shape future politics


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