The protesting farmers have come out in full-throated support of young climate activist Disha Ravi and the news portal NewsClick, refusing to be cowed into silence by the troubles they themselves are having with law enforcement agencies, particularly since the incidents of Republic Day.
“India’s young environmentalists do understand and appreciate that unviable farming leads to unsustainable farming too,” the Samyukta Kisan Morcha said on Monday.
After a quick, short statement on Sunday condemning the arrest of the 22-year-old who had backed the farmers and demanding her immediate unconditional release, the Morcha — the banner under which the farmers are gathered on Delhi’s borders since November — issued a detailed response on Monday.
The statement explained the obvious connect between Disha’s persuasion as a climate activist and their occupation of farming and repeated the Morcha’s demand for her “immediate unconditional release”.
“It is unsurprising that farmers end up adopting desperate unsustainable practices to make ends meet when their farming gets riskier due to increasingly adverse markets (due to unfair trade egged on by big corporations) and compounded by climate change,” the Morcha said.
The three farm laws “rammed down” by the Centre do not guarantee remunerative markets for farmers and instead make the markets riskier for them, with greater vulnerability to exploitation, it added.
The Morcha said: “In such a situation, the possibility of farmers adopting unsustainable production practices is higher. It is this inter-linkage between viability and sustainability that activists like Disha Ravi have understood in their extension of support for the farmers’ protests.”
The Morcha also offered an environmental perspective to its demand for a legal guarantee of a minimum support price for all crops, arguing it would help farmers diversify from mono-cropping of paddy and wheat and provide a lasting solution to the straw-burning problem that contributes to pollution in north India every winter.
“It is such solutions that the environmental activists are striving for. It is therefore unsurprising that environmental activists are lending support to the ongoing farmers’ movement, and only those who do not understand the issues involved here will feign surprise at why people like Disha Ravi are supporting the movement,” the statement said.
“We are deeply concerned and anguished about the brazen misuse of police power by the government in its efforts to weaken the ongoing farmers’ movement.”
Last week, when the Enforcement Directorate was raiding NewsClick, which had provided a detailed coverage of the farmers’ protests and related issues, the Morcha had said: “The government is clearly afraid of the strengthening movement and is trying to choke the voices of citizens and democracy in numerous ways. SKM condemns the continuing attacks on media that is amplifying the voices of the movement, and the raids on NewsClick are the latest in this stifling of democracy.”