Farmers in tractor trolleys from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will head to Delhi to join those from Punjab and Haryana staging a protest against the new agricultural laws, said farm leaders, lending a boost to them. They are expected to enter Delhi through UP.
Earlier today, after battling tear gas shells and water cannons for hours at the Delhi-Haryana border in Sonipat and Jhajjar, thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana were allowed in the evening to enter through Tikri border and hold their protest at Burari in north-west Delhi against the three agricultural bills – 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 — passed by Parliament in its monsoon session.
At Singhu border, which falls on Grand Trunk road, where thousands of tractor trolleys are stranded with farmers, the police did not allow entry till late in the evening. Haryana police officials said that there were many farmers in cars, buses and tractor trolleys heading towards Delhi from different highways in the state. The farmers’ bodies have been demanding repealing of these laws and bringing a new law ensuring minimum support price (MSP) for all agriculture produce in the country.
As the visuals of the protests on Delhi-Haryana border being stopped went viral, farmer bodies in at least 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh held protests and blocked traffic on highways with leaders calling the farmers to start a march towards Delhi from Saturday.
Dharmendra Malik, state spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the union has decided that farmers would start marching towards Delhi from tomorrow in their tractor trolleys.
“Five lakh farmers had staged a protest in Delhi for seven days in 1988 under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Tikait, compelling the then Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre to accept their demands. Farmers would force the Modi government to withdraw the bills,” he said.
A large number of farmers from Madhya Pradesh, who were trying to join the protest of farmers from Punjab and Haryana in Delhi, staged a protest near Agra at National Highway 3 on Friday as the UP police didn’t allow them to move forward.
MP Kisan Sangh general secretary Akhilesh Singh said, “The farmers from MP had been trying to reach Delhi to join a peaceful protest since Wednesday night but the UP police were stopping them. On Friday morning, they sat on dharna at Saiyan toll near Agra on National Highway 3 and halted the traffic for more than five hours. Later, they were allowed to proceed towards Delhi on Delhi-Mathura-Agra highway.”
The All India Kisan Sabha members from Rajasthan have mobilised farmers from Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Sikar districts to join the stir. “The farmers from Rajasthan will be joining the Delhi Chalo movement in the next few days. We have held solidarity protests in various parts of the state on Friday,” said Amra Ram, former law-maker and general secretary of the Kisan Sabha.
Farmers in tractor trolleys from the paddy bowl of Uttarakhand, Uddham Singh Nagar, were stopped in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur from proceeding to Delhi. They have started an indefinite sit-in protest at Rampur national highway and blocked traffic for some time. They were joined by local farmers from UP.
Tajendra Singh Virk, president, Terai Kisan Sanghtan, US Nagar, said, “UP police are not allowing us to head to Delhi in the name of Covid-19. We too have decided that we will continue our sit in and camp here till police allow us to go to Delhi.”
The Uttar Pradesh police had deployed heavy force on the Rampur highway to prevent farmers from reaching Delhi. When the UP police didn’t allow the farmers, despite several efforts, they started to sit near the barricade on the highway.
“Farmers are already in pathetic condition due to the government’s policies. These farm bills will further aggravate our problems. So we’re left with no other option but to raise our voice in Delhi,” Virk said.
There were protests in several places in Maharashtra such as Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Sangli and Wardha with farm leaders saying they would decide in the few days whether they would join the farmer stir in Delhi or not.
Although the three farm bills do not impact the farmers in Maharashtra much, Ashok Dhawale, National President of All India Kisan Sabha, said, “Thursday’s was a country-wide protest on the same issue. Punjab and Haryana are not the only states affected. We will soon take a call on joining the agitation in Delhi.”
In the meantime, the farmers bodies have decided to organise protests over the next 4-5 days. “Protests will be held for the next four-five days,” he said.
While there were no protests by farmers’ associations in Telangana, farmers in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada city held a solidarity protest under the aegis of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
The protesters were detained by the police after they had a minor clash with them. AIKSCC leader, Vadde Sobhanadreeshwar Rao, lashed out at the NDA government for enacting a draconian law that would severely affect the farmers’ interests. It is unfortunate that even the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh had supported the legislation, he said.