Farmers’ collective Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which had spearheaded the agitation against the Centre’s now-scrapped agri laws, on Monday dubbed Agnipath as another ploy to harm peasants and announced a nationwide protest on June 24 against the Centre’s new military recruitment scheme. The farmer’s body also attacked the BJP-led government, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started his victory campaign by rallying support on the promise of ‘One Rank One Pension’ but has ‘now rolled out “the new ‘No Rank No Pension’ scheme”.
In a statement, the SKM declared its support for the ongoing protests and appealed to the youths to hold peaceful demonstrations against the Agnipath scheme, which it decried as “anti-military, anti-farmer and anti-national”.
“When the central government is bent upon destroying the spirit of the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, it is the duty of the farmers’ movement to stand shoulder to shoulder with the jawans in this struggle,” the Morcha said.
“Accordingly, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will observe protest day across the country on this Friday, June 24. This decision was taken by the seven-member coordination committee of SKM in its meeting held in Karnal (Haryana) today (June 20),” according to the statement.
The protest will be held at all district and tehsil headquarters and a memorandum addressed to President Ramnath Kovind will be handed over on Friday, the SKM said.
The farmers’ body also urged youths, mass organisations and political parties to support the protest. The SKM, which had led the 2020-21 protests against the three farm laws that the Centre was compelled to withdraw, said the Agnipath scheme is playing with the future of the country.
“It is not only playing with the national security and dreams of unemployed youth, but also with the farmer families of the country. The jawan of this country is a uniformed farmer. Most of the soldiers are from farmer families. An army job is tied to the honor and economic strength of lakhs of farmer families,” it said.
“It is a matter of shame for the country that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started his victory campaign by rallying ex-servicemen with the promise of ‘One Rank One Pension’, has now launched this scheme of ‘No Rank No Pension’,” the SKM said.
The “huge cut” in regular recruitment in the army is a betrayal of the sons of farmers who had cherished the dream of serving in the army for years, it said, claiming the scheme will result in the biggest reduction in recruitment from the very areas where the farmer’s movement was more active.
“This government, stunned by its defeat at the hands of the farmers’ movement, has another ploy to take revenge on the farmers,” it added.
Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader and a prominent face of the anti-farm laws movement Rakesh Tikait had said that the SKM has decided on a nationwide protest against the Agnipath scheme on June 24.
“Samyukta Kisan Morcha protests against Agnipath scheme to be held at district and tehsil headquarters across the country on June 24 by decision of SKM Coordination Committee in Karnal. Appeal to mobilise youth, citizen organisations and parties. Now BKU’s planned protest for June 30 will also take place on June 24,” Tikait, the national spokesperson of BKU, tweeted in Hindi. (PTI)