Editorial: Resolve Farmers’ Protest Peacefully

Editorial: Resolve Farmers’ Protest Peacefully

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 07:32 PM IST
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Protesting farmers | Photo: ANI

The recent breakdown in talks between protesting farmers and the government is disheartening, especially after the rejection of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) offer for five key crops — cotton, maize, and three pulses — for five years. As tensions rise with the looming threat of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ programme restarting on February 21, it is essential to reflect on the impasse and seek a viable resolution. The government's stringent measures, reminiscent of border security, highlight the stark differences between the two sides. The use of drones and tear gas against farmers raises concerns about the heavy-handed approach employed since the agitation began on February 13. The comparison drawn between the fortified Haryana/Punjab border and the Sino-India border, though in jest, is indicative of the severity of the situation.

Yet, amidst these challenges, there is room for optimism. The farmers' demand for a legal guarantee of MSP, given the government's commitment to purchasing five crops without quantity restrictions, is reasonable. A potential solution could be the promulgation of an ordinance to solidify this commitment, preventing any post-agitation backtracking, especially when the present government’s term will end soon. Additionally, the call for pension benefits for deserving farmers is not extravagant, considering similar provisions for the poor in various states. The broader issue of farmers facing dire financial straits, coupled with substantial bank loan write-offs, necessitates a thoughtful consideration of their demand for a loan waiver. The heavens will not fall if their demand is considered sympathetically.

The unresolved Lakhimpur Kheri incident, where eight individuals lost their lives in 2020, further complicates the situation. The fact that the main accused, Ashish Mishra, was arrested only after Supreme Court intervention raises questions about the justice system. The slow progress of the case and liberal bail conditions undermine confidence in the legal process. Farmers' concerns about the investigation's slovenly nature are valid, emphasising the need for transparent communication and a fair resolution.

Amidst this turmoil, it is crucial for the government to engage in open dialogue with farmers. Addressing their legitimate concerns and working towards a mutually acceptable solution is paramount. The nation cannot afford to neglect the backbone of its economy—the farmers. The government must prioritise peace and tranquility over political prestige, demonstrating a commitment to unity and understanding. Let us not forget that, in the grand scheme of things, nothing surpasses the importance of harmony within our nation. What is applicable to the government is also applicable to the farmers who cannot be impervious to the limitations of the government. What is needed from both sides is statesmanship of the first order. If necessary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi can intervene to end the stalemate and reach an agreement.

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