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Oct 17, 2020-2020


Effigy Burning and Mock Funeral Farm Bill Protest



Bharatiya Kisan Union (Farmers' Union)


PM Narendra Modi and central govt.


Farmers should protest agaunst any farming bill that make them lose out to greedy corporations.


Issue and Opposition: In 2020, the Modi government in India introduced three farm bills that resulted in a huge uproar from the farming communities, leftist parties, and farmers’ unions across the country, especially in Punjab. The main objection against the three bills was that if passed into law, they would make the agricultural communities subservient to the big corporates leading to higher profit margins for the latter. The farm bills did not guarantee a Minimum Support Price (MSP) which is beneficial for farmers in a year of over-production. Instead, the farm bills adopted a market-oriented approach in which the laws of demand and supply applied. In simple language, this meant that agricultural prices would fall in a year when supply surpassed demand for agricultural products. As market intermediaries, the corporates, according to the provisions of the bills, were going to have immense power regarding price-setting reducing the farmers’ control over the prices of their produce. However, the government’s MSP would protect the farmers from corporate exploitation. The bills were especially detrimental to the smallholder. The smallholders are already poor and marginalized. Farmer suicides due to abject poverty are common in India. While the Modi government claimed that selling directly to the big corporates would benefit the Indian farmers, the farmers disagreed. Discontent among farmers resulted in a mass anti-farm bill campaign in which several non-violent actions (e.g. marches and all-India general strike) were performed to protest against PM Modi. Even though several rounds of talks between the farmers’ unions and the government officials took place, no common resolution could be reached on the protesters’ major demands. As time proceeded, the protesters started adding to their initial demands (e.g. increases in free electricity and farm subsidies).
Dilemma Action: On October 17, 2020, the All-India Farmers’ Union (Bharatiya Kisan Union) and its affiliated groups such as All-India Kisan Sabha and Kirti Kisan Union gathered in different locations in Punjab such as Bhatinda, Mulanpur, Ahmedgarh, Raikot, and Payal to burn the effigies of PM Modi and other members of the central Agricultural Ministry. After the effigies were burnt down, the protesters held mock funerals for the PM and ministers concerned.
Outcome: Protests against the farm bills intensified despite the COVID-19 lockdowns and pandemic deaths. Eventually, in January 2021, the Supreme Court of India ruled against the passing of the farm bills. Noting that the proposed farm bills had already created societal disruptions, strikes, and deaths of protesting farmers by suicide, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde stayed the implementation of the bills in fear that things might go further downhill in a country that was already under massive stress due to the pandemic outbreak. Concerns about the infiltration of terrorist interests such as the separatist Khalistani Movement into the protest in Punjab might have guided the Supreme Court’s decision. On November 29, 2021, both Houses of the Indian Parliament passed the bill to repeal the farm laws.


Accountability / Corruption


Mock funerals



10 / 12

(CONC) Concessions were made

(EREP) Dilemma action got replicated by other movements

(MC) Media Coverage

(MSYMP) Media coverage was sympathetic to the activists

(OR) Opponent response

(PS) Dilemma action built sympathy with the public

(PUN) Punishment favored the activists

(REFR) Dilemma action reframed the narrative of the opponent

(RF) Dilemma action reduced fear and/or apathy among the activists

(SA) Dilemma action appealed to a broad segment of the public


3 / 3

Activist group continued working together after the action

Encouraged more participants to join the movement

Internally replicated by the same movement


Project documentation

Dilemma Actions Coding Guidebook

Case study documentation


CC BY 4.0 Deed, Attribution 4.0 International


https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/protesters-burn-effigies-of-pm-modi-union-ministers057382. Accessed April 15, 2022.

The Tribune. 2020. “Protesters burn effigies of PM Modi, Union ministers,” Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/protesters-burn-effigies-of-pm-modi-union-ministers-157382).

Shih, Gerry. 2021 “After scoring victory, India’s farmers see an opening to stymie Modi’s economic agenda,” The Washington Post. Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/12/03/india-farmer-protests/).

Indian Express. 2021. “Farmers end year-long protest: A timeline of how it unfolded,” Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://indianexpress.com/article/india/one-year-of-farm-laws-timeline-7511961/).

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