Peasant movements carry out coordinated demonstrations outside several district headquarters across India
On 24th October and thereafter, thousands of peasants and small-scale food producers organised under the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movement (ICCFM) carried out coordinated actions and demonstrations outside several district administrative headquarters in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Through these joint actions, they were registering their protest against the Union Government’s decision to sign onto RCEP – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement – a trade deal involving India and 15 other nations in the Asia Pacific.
RCEP is touted as the world’s biggest trade deal and farmers in India point out that its an agreement shrouded in secrecy, despite threatening to impact the country’s dairy sector and the autonomy that the farmers have over seeds. They allege that while the Indian government, held consultations with several Corporate bodies to allay their concerns, it has held no negotiations with any of the peasant representatives so far.
Over the last week, several state governments and opposition parties in India have also held press conferences and public meetings rejecting RCEP and urging the Union Government to safeguard the interests of India’s farmers and rural workers before opening up the country to further competition from ASEAN countries as well as big economies like China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
“As the date for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Bangkok draws near – he is expected to be in the Thailand capital on November 4 – the objective of his planned trip to the Asian country has left the agrarian community, the dairy farmers in particular, a worried lot,” Times of India reported from Mysuru.
“In a bid to urge PM Modi to back out of RCEP, hundreds of farmers, activists and many prominent personalities took out a rally from Ramaswamy Cricle to the deputy commissioner’s office in the city on Thursday. On reaching the destination of their rally – the DC’s office – the protesters sat in front of the heritage structure and raised slogans condemning the central government and PM Modi. The protesters then proceeded to submit a memorandum to the DC, wherein they have asked the Centre not to go ahead with the RCEP agreement.”, the report added.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Prakasam district units of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, Andhra Pradesh Raitu Sangham and Development Organization for Socio-Economic Change in Prakasam district organized a conference to discuss the effects of India joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in Ongole on Thursday, reported The Hans India.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Lakhowal on Thursday staged a protest outside the District Administrative Complex in Bathinda, Punjab. Later, a memorandum of their demands was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, reported Tribune
They held the protest in response to a call given by the BKU national high command to give memorandums across the country in protest against the Narendra Modi-led Central Government, the report added.
Across Uttar Pradesh, including in places like Muzzafarnagar, Amroha and Baghbat, the Bhartiya Kisan Union organsied several demonstrations against RCEP. (a full list is provided at the end of this article)
In Tamil Nadu, farmers who are organsied under the Tamil Vivasaigal Sangam (TVS), held several demonstrations opposing RCEP.
Several actions took place across Karnataka, organised by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS).
Here is a glimpse of the actions from around the state.
Updated list of places where action against RCEP was carried out on 24 & 25 October
Karnataka : Mysore, Mandya, Shimoga, Hassan, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Chamarajanagar, Ramanagar, Belagavi, Chitradurga, Madikeri, Haveri, Tumkur, Raichur, Bellary, Gulbarga, Bijapura, Gadag, Yadagiri and Yelanduru and many other taluk headquarters
Tamil Nadu : Coimbatore(public demonstration and press meet), Chennai (a delegation submitted memorandum to agriculture minister), Nagapattinam, Madurai
Uttar Pradesh: Rampur, Amroha, Muzzafarnagar, Shamli, Kanauj, Fatehpur, Unnao, Faizabad, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bijnor, Lucknow and many other places
Madhya Pradesh : Ratlam, Khatarpur, Hoshangabhad, Satna, Sagar, Indore, Rajghad, Agar Malwa, Damoh, Seoni, Annupur and other places
Punjab & Haryana : Bathinda, Amritsar and information on more places awaited
Telangana & Andhra Pradesh : Jayashankar, Narayanpet, Rangareddy, Warangal Rural, Wanaparthi Ongole, Mulugu, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, Nirmal, Sangareddy, Vijayawada and Hyderabad – organized by AIKSCC groups of Telangana/AP.
Odisha : Bargha
Maharashtra : Mumbai
Expressing apprehension that the RCEP pact would result in import of agriculture produces at cheap prices, leaders of KRRS said that this would pave way for decline in the demand for locally grown agriculture produces and a slump in their prices. When the country has attained self-sufficiency in production of foodgrains, opening the Indian market for import of agriculture produces is an absurd and illogical move, the protesters said according to this report in The Hindu. In the past, the price of arecanut and other plantation crops had declined owing to cheap imports under various free trade pacts. The arecanut growers are staring at a similar slump in the price owing to the RCEP pact, the peasants alleged.
(This article has been updated with a full list of places where the actions took place. A more comprehensive summary of the action is available here. )