18 February – Support the Farmers
“RAIL ROKO” (Railway Blockade) across India
12 pm to 4pm (local time)
INDIA: Support 18 February protest “Rail
national blockade of railways
FACT SHEET: Millions of farmers strike against
laws that put corporations
in charge of land and food production
why farmers are protesting
The movement to repeal Modi’s three
is growing in strength since protests began in August
2020. The Acts will put
farmers at the mercy of multinational and national
corporations, turning India into a free trade area and
ending state support to farmers and those on the lowest
Prices of essential foods will increase and millions of
people will starve.
strike is about
the food security of 1.2 billion Indians.
In November 2020,
250 million workers
all over India across every sector, including factory
workers, dock workers, coal miners, healthcare workers,
went on strike in support of farmers and agricultural
the largest strike in history.
On 30 November,
including women, children and elders, marched on the
capital New Delhi and set up camps on the outskirts with
massive communal kitchens, laundry facilities and
schools, blocking major highways into the city. The
camps have been the base for other workers and
organisers to meet and even join with the farmers, and
to keep up the pressure on the government’s doorstep.
Local communities bring water and food.
On 12 January,
the Supreme Court suspended the laws
for 18 months but refused to repeal them.
Big mobilisations continued: 18 January,
Women Farmers’ Day
marches and rallies; 26 January, 200,000 tractor rally
into and around Delhi;
and road blocks in all states.
The camps are holding firm in the face of severe cold,
violent repression from security forces. Some farmers
have been killed. Many have been arrested and legal
defence campaigns set up.
Several state governments oppose the Acts.
There is growing support internationally too.
Farmers are demanding:
An immediate repeal of the three farm laws.
A law to guarantee minimum support prices (MSP)
according to the recommendation of National Commission
on Farmers (Swaminathan Commission).
Strengthening the public distribution system (PDS) for
subsidised food for lowest income people.
Basic facts about agriculture
70% of rural households
depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
85% of all farmers are small farmers
owning less than 2 hectares.
Women and children do 70% of all agricultural work and
own 12.8% of the land
even when widowed and running their husband’s farm
Women farm workers earn 55% to 77% of men’s wages.
Nearly 80% of all women workers work in agriculture.
81% of women land labourers and the majority of all
casual and landless labourers are Dalit, Tribal or other
Women in the strike and their demands
To join the Delhi camps, women set up a
- when some leave to care for families and farm, others
take their place “but the ten who leave bring 200 back
in their stead.” Women are
central to sustaining the protests,
managing the men’s farm work and their own as well as
the households, and ensuring a continuous supply of
rations, blankets and other essentials to protest sites.
Without their work “the men could not have camped on
Delhi borders for more than a month”. In Punjab,
women have organised 100 daily protests.
Thousands have lost sons and husbands to suicide
due to debt.
Work is seasonal: “We
are barely surviving. During the harvest and sowing
seasons, we get some work and earn up to Rs. 270 [£2.70]
a day.” They are not getting
100 days guaranteed work.
demanding pensions and widows’ pensions.
A grassroots women’s group in rural Chhattisgarh said:
“On Women’s Farmers Day, Dalit, Tribal and other
discriminated castes women marched together within a big
march with men through the city as well as in the
villages. Everyone chanted “Down with the Farm Laws!”
There were also highways road blocks. Everyone watching
cheered, including the media. Chhattisgarh is one of the
states whose government opposes the three laws. The
landless women work for big landowners. The men earn 200
rupees (about £2) a day, the women 150 rupees (£1.50).”