THE Supreme Court’s suggestion to put on hold the implementation of the contentious new farm laws to enable negotiations with the farmers needs serious consideration, despite the Centre’s initial submission during the hearing that even this will fail to move the protesters towards any meaningful settlement. A day before, while noting that the talks with farmer groups did not appear to be yielding results, the court had spoken of forming a committee comprising representatives of the government, farmer organisations and other stakeholders to try and resolve the impasse. The farmers’ right to non-violent protests has been acknowledged, but also the fundamental rights of others to move freely. The situation continues to be delicate, and the apex court’s intervention offers a window of opportunity to end the three-week-long stalemate.
The protesting unions seem indifferent to the idea of constituting a panel to break the deadlock, arguing that the time for such an exercise was before enactment of the laws, and sticking to their line of not budging till the laws are repealed. There has been an apparent hardening of stand on the Centre’s part, too, with senior leaders going for the jugular. Reservations and rancour on both sides notwithstanding, obduracy cannot be a goal in itself, nor the determined efforts to bring the other down. A call must go out across the spectrum — be it those holding the reins of power, the protesters and supporters, politicians of all hues and civil society at large — to tone down the rhetoric and invest in talks, no matter the time it takes. The Centre has to show the magnanimity to take the lead.
The sight of farmers spending nights out in the biting cold and the spate of deaths, including the suicide by a preacher, are extremely disturbing. Every day that the protest continues only adds to the distress. Any reform is a sign of executive will, but
it cannot be shoved down the throats of the affected people or be seen in terms of victory or defeat.