Kolkata: On Kisan Diwas, Kolkatans expressed their solidarity with the protesting farmers demanding repeal of the new farm laws by not just skipping a meal but by skipping it for eight hours at a stretch.
Farmers across India and especially at the Singhu border had called upon people to skip a meal to express their solidarity with the protesting farmers on December 23rd, the Kisan Diwas.
In Kolkata people as young as 15 to 80 year-old senior citizens attended the day-long fast at Ladies Park in central Kolkata and sat there from 9 am till 5 pm on Wednesday.
Significantly, seventy five percent of the participants were young girls and students. Most of the participants did not even drink water to show their solidarity with the protesting farmers.
The protest fast was organised by Centre For Peace & Progress and Purple Foundation
Trust deficit between farmers and government
The Chairman of Center for Peace & Progress, Om Prakash Shah, told eNewsroom, “Students, professors, homemakers and people from my age group, all participated.”
On being asked how significant this ongoing farmers’ protest is for the common man of the country and for the future of India, the Chairman said, “If farmers have to protest and it gets longer because the government continues to ignore their concerns then it is not in the interest of the country. It is important that the PM take the initiative to resolve the issue now.”
Shah, who has organized several peace dialogues between India and Pakistan, further elaborated, “There is total trust deficit. Farmers believe that what the government is doing, they are not doing for their welfare. Farmers are questioning the government for passing the Bills in a hurry. They are questioning the government for not talking to them, the stakeholders. They are concerned why the government did not take the opposition into confidence and why they rejected the demand to send the Bills to the Select Committee. When you wish to bring about fundamental changes, you should talk to stakeholders. But the Bills got passed by voice votes and not by actual voting.”
“Supreme Court also asked the Solicitor General whether the three laws could be kept in abeyance but SG replied that he could not say anything without talking to the government. After that nothing was stated,” he further added.
The veteran activist warned the government, “Longer this protest gets in this chilly winter, more hardened the feelings of the protesting farmers will be against the government. Already several deaths have taken place. It is not a happy situation.”
How will skipping a meal help the farmers’ movement?
Social activist Ujjaini Halim, who has just recovered from Covid-19, too skipped her lunch in solidarity with the protesting farmers.
“I believe in the farmers’ movement and if farmers are in distress then it is a distress for the entire population. Knowing that those who feed us are going hungry and fighting for their rights I too skipped my meal.”
She added, “People asked me how skipping a meal will help farmers’ movement? My answer is, the farmers’ movement is integral to the Right to Life and by extension Right to Food. And Right to Food does not mean only supply of the food but extends to the people who grow that food. People without whom there can be no food. Right to Life and Food is a Fundamental Right. No government can deny its citizens their Fundamental Rights. The Indian government has to abide by the Constitution of India. The government has to ensure that the Fundamental Right is upheld. To express this fact of law and in solidarity, I skipped my meal.”
Jharhand too observed fast and sit-in
Expressing their solidarity with the protest farmers, people sat at iconic Gandhi Statue at Morahabadi Ground in Ranchi between 11 am to 3 pm. Besides them, people at Jamshedpur and Giridih too skipped a meal on the call of farmers.