New laws will break the backbone of agri sector: Arundhati Roy

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Pune, Jan 30 (PTI) Eminent novelist and essayist Arundhati Royon Saturday came out in support of the farmers who are agitating on Delhi borders, and said the new farm laws which they are opposing will help only the corporate sector.

Speaking at Elgar Parishad, a conclave, here, Roy also slammed the BJP governments at the centre and in states over issues such as anti-conversion laws and lockdown.

'It is very important for us to stand by the farmers,' the Man Booker award-winning writer said.

'The new agriculture laws will break the backbone of the farm sector and give the control to the corporates,' she said, alleging that the Union government was trying to discredit the agitation.

Roy referred to arrests of several Left-leaning activists including Sudha Bharadwaj under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act following the December 2017 Elgar Parishad in Pune.

As in the the case of ongoing farmers' movement, there were attempts to discredit the Elgar Parishad and the activists associated with it by terming them as `urban naxals', she alleged.

All the jailed activists should be released immediately, she demanded.

'During the lockdown when lakhs of people lost their jobs, the wealth of industrialists grew by 35 per cent,' she charged.

She also blasted the BJP-led Union government for announcing lockdown for coronavirus in March last year with only four hours' notice, calling it an 'ambush'.

Criticizing the ordinances issued by BJP-ruled states to penalize `fraudulent' religious conversions, Roy said many Muslim youths and families have been targeted under the garb of these laws.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the 'mercy' of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture. PTI COR MR KRK KRK