Vacating with a victory: Farmers decide to finally end their year-long protests! What's next?

Finally, the protesting farmers have on Thursday- December 9 announced that they will end their agitation and will decamp their temporary shelters from the national capital. Their decision of vacating from the protests with a huge victory has come days after the Union government has repealed the three contentious farm laws, against which they were protesting. The government has also passed the Farm laws repeal bill in the ongoing session of the Parliament and Prime Minister Modi had earlier appealed to the peasants to withdraw their protests. 

The Union government has in September last year passed the laws following which the farmers from across the country - particularly from the states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh had arrived in Delhi and staged protests against the government with the demand to repeal the laws and they expressed their fear that these laws would dismantle their Minimum Support Price (MSP) and would infuse the dominance of the private sectors in agriculture. The farmers have been protesting for over a year since last November. 

They had installed temporary shelters and amid the deployment of security forces, the farmers had refused to take back their protests until their demand is met and they continued their agitation amid the menace of the Covid-19 pandemic and challenging weather conditions. The year-long protests had seen the death of over 700 farmers and last month, in a televised address to the nation during the morning hours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the farm laws will be repealed and he went on to ask apology to the farmers by claiming that his government will always work for peasants. 

He had then appealed to the protesting farmers to withdraw their protests and return to their homes. Though the farmers welcomed Modi's announcement of revoking the laws, the farm unions have said that they won't take back their protests until the government passes a bill to revoke the farm laws. The government had tabled and passed the Farm laws repeal bill in both the houses of the Parliament in the ongoing Winter session and the farmers had celebrated the moment as the historical victory for their protests. 

Days after the revocation of the farm laws, the farmers have on Thursday announced that they will end their year-long protests. The farmers have said that they will end their protest on Saturday - December 11 and will return to their homes. According to reports, the Union government had on Wednesday sent a draft proposal to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in which it has agreed to form a committee to address several issues including MSP put by the farmers. The Centre's letter has come following a letter from SKM that was sent to the Centre on November 21, highlighting six demands of the farmers. 

The farm body had pressed the government that revocation of the farm laws wasn't the only demand from the farmers and it was one of the several concerns. In its letter, the Centre has agreed to form a committee to decide the issue over the MSP and the committee will consist of government officials, agriculture experts, and representatives from SKM, which is the umbrella body of farmer unions that has led this year-long protest. The Centre has also accepted one of the key demands that all police cases against farmers that were filed during their protests. 

The Centre's drive of withdrawing the police cases include stubble burning complaints and those filed by Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in connection with violent clashes with security forces over the past several months. The government has also assured the farmers that all cases against them relating to the protests will be immediately withdrawn and it also has appealed to the state governments to revoke the cases filed against the farmers. As their demands were met, the farmers have decided to end their protests on December 11.

Last week, farmers had said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had spoken to them over the phone to discuss outstanding issues and even on Tuesday, the farmer leaders and SKM had held a meeting to consider the centre's offer and the meeting had ended without an agreement. However, in two days, the farmers have decided to end their protests. The farmers had received a letter from the Centre on Thursday with the promises of forming a committee on MSP and withdrawing the cases against them immediately. The visuals from the protest sites had shown that the farmers have been removing their temporary shelters and tents as they are getting ready to return home.

The farmers had celebrated at the Singhu border following the announcement of ending their year-long protests. The farmer unions had held a victory prayer at 5.30 pm on Thursday and they also had planned to conduct a victory march at Singhu and Tikri protest sites on Delhi's borders on December 11 around 9 am and on December 13, the farm leaders in Punjab will be offering worship at the Golden Temple in Amristar.  According to reports, all protests in Punjab will be over on December 15 and SKM will be meeting again in Delhi on January 15.

Though the farmers had decided to end their protests, Chadhuni, a farmer leader, has said that they will resume their protests if the Centre fails to keep its promises of addressing the MSP issue and taking back the cases filed against the farmers. As farmers prepare for their next with plans to have more meetings in the upcoming days concerning the Centre's committee, Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, "I congratulate the farmers on their victory today. But, 700 farmers lost their lives during their year-long protest against farm laws. We will always stand with and for the farmers."