Maharashtra-based farmers’ outfit Shetkari Sanghatana’s president Anil Ghanwat on Tuesday said there is a feeling among cultivators that even after 75 years of independence they have not achieved real freedom and hence, they will not take part in the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative.
The ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign has been launched by the Centre to encourage people to bring the tricolour home and to hoist it to mark the 75th year of India’s independence. The idea behind the initiative, part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, is to invoke the feeling of patriotism among citizens and to promote awareness about the national flag.
Ghanwat, who was a member of the Supreme Court-appointed panel on the now-scrapped farm reform laws, said he is free as a citizen of the country, but certainly not happy as a farmer who is restricted with several rules and regulations in the agricultural sector.
He said his outfit has drafted a letter detailing sentiments of farmers on key issues faced by them and the missive will be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
“There is common feeling among farmers that they never received freedom and what sort of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ should be celebrated. Lakhs of farmers are committing suicide…embracing death,” Ghanwat said.
He said farmers are proud of the independence achieved by the country and they will celebrate August 15 as usual “but we are not keen on celebrating the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ event.”
“There is a feeling that real freedom was never reached by the farmers of India and that is why they will not take part in the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative, but we will celebrate Independence Day,” said Ghanwat.
The prominent farmer leader, who was a staunch supporter of the three agri-marketing laws that were passed by Parliament in 2020, but withdrawn by the Centre earlier this year following protests, said his organization wants to spread awareness among general citizens about issues faced by cultivators.
Ghanwat said, “The Maharashtra government has appealed to citizens to hoist the tricolour on their homes between August 11 and 17, but we want to sensitize people about the plight of farmers and the issues faced by them.” He said numerous “anti-farmer” laws exist in the country.
“The first amendment made in the Constitution was inclusion of the Ninth Schedule, where several laws were placed which cannot be challenged in courts. For instance, if the Union government puts a ban on export of agricultural produce, we cannot appeal against it. If a farmer’s land is acquired for some infrastructure project, he or she can not even oppose it or seek the court’s intervention,” he said.
The Ninth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.
“There are so many anti-farmers laws and regulations… how is a farmer supposed to earn money steadily like any other professional? We want more and more people to understand our condition and the restrictions placed on us,” he said.