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Sermons at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, telecast live and watched by millions, spreads misinformation about farm laws

On December 13, after Gurbani and Kirtan Path, Katha Vachak Baba Banta Singh Ji shared stories of Gurus. However, towards the end, he talked about the ongoing farmers' protests and Agriculture laws, during which he shared some misinformation about the laws.

One of the most prominent Sikh Gurudwara, Bangla Ji Sahib, is known for its water that is believed to have healing properties. Sikhs from around the world visit this Gurudwara and take the holy water with them back home. Originally, Gurudwara was Raja Jai Singh’s bungalow. Eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Kishan, stayed in the place during his stay in Delhi in 1664.

During that era, the smallpox and cholera epidemic had hit the region, and Guru Har Kishan Ji served the ailing by giving them aid and fresh water. Soon he too contracted the disease and died on March 30, 1664. Raja Jai Singh constructed a small tank over the well from where Guru Har Kishan Ji used to draw fresh water. It is now believed that the water from this tank has healing powers.

Due to its historical connection, popularity, location, and beautiful construction, it is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. Its kitchen is one of the most famous Gurudwara kitchens in India. The beautiful golden dome is visible from a distance, and you cannot miss it while visiting Connaught Place in Delhi.

The morning Gurbani and Kirtan

Gurbani and Kirtan are live telecasted on several channels and on social media platforms like YouTube. Millions of devotees around the world tune in to the live telecast on different channels. The peaceful recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, followed by Kirtan Path, is a real stress buster for many. The platform is often used to recite stories of Sikh Gurus.

The misinformation about Agriculture laws

On December 13, after Gurbani and Kirtan Path, Katha Vachak Baba Banta Singh Ji shared stories of Gurus. However, towards the end, he talked about the ongoing farmers’ protests and Agriculture laws, during which he shared some misinformation about the laws. Towards the end of the Morning Prayer session, he talked about the protests and said that there are three laws that the government has passed, Trade, Produce, and Commerce. In general language, it is known as ‘free market.’ He said that the concept has already failed in America and Canada.

MSP and produce price in general

Claim: He said, “These Acts are the first step to end MSP. The government wants to withdraw MSP. As per the new law, there will be private markets alongside government markets. These private markets will pay more compared to the government markets. The farmers will be lured towards private markets because of price, convenience and facilities. While in government markets it takes days to get the produce unloaded, the process will be quick in the private markets.”

He further said that this would continue for a few years. “Once the farmers stop going to government markets, the government will close them down on the pretext of losses. Then, the corporate will say that as there is no competition, they will only pay half the price to the farmers. With no option left, the farmers have to sell the produce at low rate.”

Fact: The government has clearly said that there are no plans to withdraw MSP. Even after passing the laws, the government has procured all-time high Kharif produce from the farmers. MSP for the next produce for 2021 has already been set, and the government has spent 67,248.22 crores on the procurement of Kharif produce.

Essential Commodity

Claim: He said that the government had removed the limit of storage capacity. The corporate houses can store as much produce as they want. “Even those farmers who have 100 acre land do not have the facility to store their produce. The corporate who live in Mumbai will store all the grains, potato, pulses etc. and will create shortage in the market. When there is shortage, the price will rise. There will be time when you will have to pay Rs.500 for the KG of rice that you buy for Rs.100 these days. Corporate will set the price as per their wish.” He further added that the corporate houses would increase every commodity’s price just like Reliance sells corn for Rs.50 that the farmer sells for a mere Rs.5.

Fact: The Law [PDF] allow storage according to the ceiling capacity of the storage house. Every storage house has a specific limit. They cannot store more than that. Also, the government will strictly monitor the price of every commodity and will intervene when the price increases for horticulture produce by 100% or 50% for non-perishable produce.

It has to be noted that there are hundreds of commodities, especially under horticulture produce or perishable produce, that do not come under MSP. Their price fluctuates every year based on the season. The government will compare the price of every commodity to its price in the last twelve months or to the price of the last five years, whichever is lower, and intervene accordingly.

Contract farming

Claim: He said that the corporate houses would offer double the price of contract farming to the farmers compared to current rates. However, they will put a clause of multiple years in the contract. The farmer will get lured due to the higher price. For one year, they will pay the decided price, but after one year, they will say that due to low productivity, they can only pay the lower price.

“If the farmer ask them to leave his land, they will show him the contract for multiple years. No one will listen to him including police or SDM, where farmers are allowed to file a complaint. The law does not allow farmers to go to court.” He further added that the farmer would have no choice but to sell his land to the corporate houses.

Fact: The law allows contracts for one crop season or a maximum of up to five years. If the crop needs more than five years to grow, then the farmer and the sponsor may get into a mutual contract for a longer period. The price has to be mentioned in the contract, along with the quality of the produce.

If the price may vary depending on the product, a guaranteed price has to be mentioned in the contract. Any bonus or premium that the farmer may get must be mentioned in the contract. The price can be decided on the line of APMC yard or electronic trading or transaction platform. The sponsor will not have the right to retract from accepting the produce. He may, however, check the quality of the produce as per the agreement.

The law says [PDF] that the two-thirds payment has to be made immediately at the time of accepting the produce in case of seed production, and the remaining amount has to be paid within 30 days of accepting the produce. In other cases, the payment has to be made at the time of accepting the produce.

The law also bars any of the party from adding farmers’ land in the agreement. The land cannot be sold, transferred, or leased. The contract will be for the produce only. The sponsor can raise structure on the land, but he has to remove it as the contract ends. If he fails to do so, the farmer will own the structure after the conclusion of the agreement. In case of a dispute, the parties can approach SDM, and the case has to be settled in 30 days. In case the parties are not happy with the outcome of the judgment, they can appeal to the Appellate Authority, i.e., the Collector. In the recent discussions, the government has shown willingness to amend the law further to allow the parties to approach courts.

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Anurag
Multimedia graduate by education. Writer by profession. Poet by heart.

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