Justice Markandey Katju-
Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
To Honble the Prime Minister of India
Respected Narendra Modiji,
The Kisan agitation in India and the problems related to it have reached a deadlock. The farmers’ organizations have refused participation in the hearings of the 4 member committee appointed by the Supreme Court, and have clearly said that the agitation will not be called off unless the 3 laws to which they object are repealed.
The farmers in huge numbers are presently camped at the border of Delhi but are determined to enter Delhi on 26th January and join the Republic Day parade with their tractors. This will be obviously not be allowed by the Government, and consequently, violence in the form of police and paramilitary lathi charges and firing seems inevitable, and a Jalianwala Bagh type massacre ( or like the massacre on Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg in Russia in January 1905, or as on Vendemiarie in Paris in October 1795 ) may ensue.
I am sure you would like to avoid that. To my mind therefore the only solution for resolving the deadlock is this :
(1) The Government should issue an Ordinance immediately repealing the 3 laws. If you do this you will be hailed by all for doing it. If anyone asks why the laws were made at all, you can say that we made a mistake, and we realize our mistake and are correcting it. All human beings make mistakes. By doing this, far from losing face, you will be applauded. If you do it your popularity, far from going down, will soar.
(2) Simultaneously, the Government should appoint a High Powered Farmers Commission having as its members’ representatives of the leading farmers’ organizations, government representatives, and agricultural experts, tasked with the duty of considering all aspects of the problems of our farmers, the principal one being that they are not getting adequate remuneration for their produce ( because of which 3 to 4 lac farmers have already committed suicide ). This Farmers Commission should hold several meetings, perhaps stretching over several months, and then the consensus which emerges, to which everyone agrees, should be enacted as a comprehensive law.
Please realize that farmers constitute 60-65% of the 135 crore population of India, which means they are about 75 crore people. A law that affects the lives of such a huge number of people must be made very carefully and after long deliberations with the stakeholders. Evidently, the 3 laws in question were made hurriedly, and without such deliberations.
Please also keep in mind that farmers constitute a huge vote bank, which no doubt was till now divided on the basis of caste and religion, but they are now united against these laws. This is bound to adversely affect your party’s future electoral prospects.
If my suggestion is not accepted, and violence at Delhi ensues, soon thereafter there will be largescale turmoil in Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, western UP, and this will then spread and escalate in other Indian states too. Even the army and police personnel are bound to be affected, as they too are mostly either farmers or sons of farmers, and hence at heart, their sympathies would be with the agitating farmers ( though being members of a disciplined force they cannot express it openly ). As is often said, a soldier is a peasant in uniform. One shudders to think of the possible consequences which may follow if there is violence against the agitating farmers.
Please consider my suggestion seriously and carefully, as time is running out.
Justice Markandey Katju
Former Judge, Supreme Court of India