Farmers' agitation will fail, Justice Katju's prediction

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

While I have sympathy for the agitating farmers in India since they are not getting adequate remuneration for their agricultural produce, I am afraid their present agitation is doomed to failure, for which I am giving my reasons :

1. The call 'Dilli kooch karo' ( march on Delhi ) is wholly unrealistic. Between Delhi and Punjab ( to which most of the agitating farmers belong ) lies Haryana, and Haryana is a BJP-ruled state. So far from any possibility of reaching Delhi, they will not even be allowed to cross the Haryana border, as that is barricaded by heavily armed Indian para-military troops.

2. The present Indian government represents the big Indian and foreign corporates, which have an eye on the huge agricultural sector of the Indian economy, and wishes to make inroads into it for making profits. This puts the farmers, which are led in Punjab and elsewhere by big and middle level farmers, in direct conflict with the corporates.

Giving MSP ( minimum support price ) to farmers will strengthen them, which the corporates do not want as they wish to take over the agricultural sector of the Indian economy, displacing the farmers. So the Indian government, which represents the corporates, will never grant MSP to the farmers, but keep befooling them ( as it wants their votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections ).

I do not think that the ongoing farmers' agitation in India will achieve much.

At most the farmers may get some minor concessions, but if they press for more they will get the police danda

3. If the farmers try to cross the Haryana border, it is very likely they will be stopped by water cannon and teargas, and if that does not work, by lathi-charge and bullets. To allow a huge mob of farmers to storm the border and proceed towards Delhi means surrendering authority, and no government will allow that.

As much as one may wish that does not happen, a repeat of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919, or Bloody Sunday (as in St Petersburg in January 1905) or Vendemiarie (as in Paris in October 1795) may be in the offing, and the farmers may be dispersed by a 'whiff of grapeshot', as was done by Napoleon's cannons.
(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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