Over 850 academics sign open letter in support of farm laws

More than 850 faculty members of various educational institutions across the country have come forward with a signature campaign in support of the three contentious farm laws, against which thousands of farmers have been protesting at the borders of the national capital for over a month.

In an open letter, these individuals have said they strongly believe in the government’s assurance to farmers that their livelihoods would be protected. They further said that the new laws would free farm trade from all restrictions and enable farmers to do all transactions at competitive prices.

“The Union government has repeatedly assured the farmers that these three bills on farm trade wouldn’t do away with Minimum Support Price (MSP), but rather free the farm trade from all illicit market restrictions, open the market beyond “mandis” and further assists the small and marginal farmers to sell their produce at market/competitive prices,” said the letter signed by 866 persons.

The signatories include faculty members and other functionaries of Delhi University, Banaras Hindu University, and JNU, among other educational institutions.

“We stand in solidarity with both the government and the farmers and salute their intense efforts,” the letter said.

Six rounds of talks between the government and nearly 40 protesting unions so far have failed to end the agitation by farmers.

Some common ground was reached in the last meeting on Wednesday on two demands — decriminalisation of stubble burning and continuation of power subsidies — but no consensus has been reached so far on the two main demands of the protesting farmers, the repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee of MSP procurement system.

Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms and aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the MSP and mandi systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out repealing the laws.

While several opposition parties and people from other walks of life have come out in support of the farmers, some farmer groups have also met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar over the last few weeks to extend their support for the three laws.

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