Indian farmers have been protesting since November 2020, seeking repeal of three new farm laws and demanding minimum support prices for their produce.
2020 highlighted the resilience of protests around the globe. Despite the greatest public health challenge in over a century, the viral threat, lockdowns, and the increasingly repressive environment, protests remained an integral part of the global political landscape. How would one feel telling one’s grandkids about the protests one has attended in life - and if those protests have brought significant change. It always feels good to be instrumental in bringing change in the best interests of the masses. Did you ever feel that your voice was unheard unless it becomes a voice of the masses to influence government policy? Have you ever witnessed a non-violent protest turn aggressively violent? Something similar is happening to the farmers’ protests in India. Before exploring mishandling of the issue and how it swelled, let us understand the concept of public protest.
Protest is an expression of complaint, condemnation or opposition towards any idea or action. Generally, protests are designed to express disagreement against a socio-political policy of a government. Even a statement by an individual can cause mass demonstrations or protestors may undertake direct action in an attempt to enact the desired changes themselves. Protests can occur in different forms such as a rally or demonstrations, marches, vigil, picket, civil disobedience, information distribution, symbolic displays, attacks, riots (mob violence) and vandalism, slowing down work activities, boycott, silent protests, press conferences, prayers, walks, lawsuits and online protests.
Most of the times, protests are of a short duration and, in some cases, they extend for a long time. In response, usually countries opt for protest policing by deploying armoured vehicles and use of force against protesters. In such responses by governments, protests may assume the form of open civil disobedience or adopt more sensitive forms of resistance against the restrictions. A protest itself may at times face a counter-protest. In such cases, counter-protesters display their support for the person, policy, or action of the government. Protesters and counter-protesters can sometimes violently clash.