Farmers protest, February 2024 : 

Another instance of drone warfare and oF Pellet Gun Use by the state on its own citizens in India 

We stand in unison with the farmers of India, who are again on the streets courageously protesting to safeguard their livelihoods and their rightful place in society. The farmers' struggle highlights critical issues that demand immediate attention and resolution following the lack of implementation of the agreed actions by the Indian state during their successful 16-month protests in 2020/21. At that time, the Indian government had been forced to withdraw the controversial “farm laws”, and agreed to institute a programme of Minimum Support Price, withdrawal of criminal cases against the farmers, pensions for farmworkers and farmers, etc (a list of key demands are listed at the bottom). It has to be noted that this victory came at the cost of over 700 deaths of protesting farmers.

The response of the government to these peaceful protests has been alarmingly repressive. In fear of the farmers occupying the streets of Delhi, using the pretext of anticipation of disturbances in law and order, the government instituted internet shutdowns in several areas of the state of Haryana to disrupt communications, pre-emptively erected concrete barriers and metal spikes on public roads which has also caused inconvenience to the public at large and blocking social media accounts of dissenting voices. However, it has also used drones for tear gas shelling and firing of rubber pellets—resulting in severe injuries including loss of vision and the tragic loss of at least one farmer's (Shubhkaran Singh) life—exposing an authoritarian and anti-worker stance that cannot be ignored. In fact, as we have already highlighted before in a joint statement, drones against citizens have been used in the state of Chattisgarh. The current use of drones implies a dangerous trend and undermines the democratic right to protest against the increasing privatisation, globalisation and liberalisation agenda of the state, which is opposed by the farmers and others such as the Adivasi indigenous communities. In 2022, a research investigation was reported on eye injuries caused by pellet gun use in Kashmir since 2010. It found that of 777 people who sustained eye injuries, most had "lost vision in either one or both the eyes despite treatment ... with the vision amongst them limited to only counting fingers."

In light of these events, we call again for the immediate suspension of UK-India trade talks and demand the UK government raise the question of human rights abuses of India’s own citizens including its farmers.

We urge all to join us in this campaign by signing our statement, detailing the authoritarian nature of the current far-right BJP-led government and stand in solidarity with the farmers of India.

Some key demands of protesting farmers in India:

1) Implementation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) based on the Swaminathan Commission's formula (at least 50% more than costs for the farmers to produce the crop)

2) The withdrawal of fake cases against agitating farmers, action against the perpetrators of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence

3) Resistance against the implementation of the Electricity Bill through backdoor ordinances

4) A reevaluation of WTO-IMF agreements detrimental to domestic agriculture

5) The introduction of a ₹10,000 pension for senior farm workers and farmers

6) The extension of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to include 200 days of work at improved pay, 

7) The stringent enforcement of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution to protect tribal rights.