Agri Business

Braving police action, Delhi chalo gains momentum

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 26, 2020 Published on November 26, 2020

Protesters converging on the capital were detained in the city and at State borders

Tens of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, are expected to reach Delhi border as part of a Delhi Chalo call by over 500 farmer organisations for a two-day protest against the three farm reform laws despite Police in Delhi and neighbouring States arresting or detaining prominent farmer leaders in the capital or while they were on their way on Thursday.

There wasn’t any official communication from the government yet even though Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was quoted by an agency appealing to farmers to stay away from agitation.

“We are ready to talk about the issues and resolve differences. I am sure that our dialogue will have a positive impact,” Tomar is said to have told ANI.

Tomar together with Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal held a meeting with agitating Punjab farmers on November 13 and another round of talks is scheduled for December 3. Punjab farmer leaders, however, wanted the government to invite farmer leaders from all over Acts would adversely hit farmers everywhere.

Converging on Delhi

The Delhi Chalo programme is organised by Samukt Kisan Morcha — a broad-based coalition of 500 farmer groups, including 250 farmer organisations affiliated to All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Punjab farmer organisations which have been protesting against the Act for over two months and the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh led by Shiv Kumar ‘Kakkaji’, a farmer leader known for his close ties with the RSS.

Apart from scrapping of the three farm Acts, which they terms “anti-farmer and pro-corporate”, the farmers want the government not to go ahead with the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 and assurance of C2+50 per cent MSP on all crops.

According to AIKSCC leaders, even though farmers coming in from many other States were stopped by UP Police and Haryana Police, Punjab farmers have managed to remove obstacles put in their way by Haryana Police and continued to march towards Delhi. While nearly 50,000 Punjab farmers are expected to reach Delhi border by tonight, many more would join them by Friday morning,” said P Krishnaprasad, an AIKSCC leader and Finance Secretary of the CPI(M)-backed All India Kisan Sabha.

Krishnaprasad was among the farmer leaders arrested by the Delhi Police while demonstrating at Jantar Mantar on Thursday. “Peaceful protests are allowed near Jantar Mantar by the Supreme Court. How did the Delhi Police arrest activists who are less than 200 in numbers there,” asked a AIKSCC functionary and a farmer leader from Madhya Pradesh, Sunilam.

Among the leaders who were detained or arrested while attempting to go towards Delhi were Yogendra Yadav coming to Delhi with farmers from Haryana; Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, who was leading a convoy of farmers from Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu; and Kakkaji who was arrested near Majnu ki Tila Gurudwara in North Delhi. While Yadav was detained by Haryana Police, Patkar was stopped by UP Police as the convoy crossed from Rajasthan.

Similarly over 8,000 farmers from Uttarakhand headed for Delhi were stopped by UP Police in Rampur

Besides, farmers and trade union workers in many States were observing a grameen hartal in solidarity with the Delhi Chalo protesters.

Delhi Metro stations shut

Delhi Metro closed down many central Delhi stations on Thursday and threatened to do so the same on Friday on orders of Delhi Police.

AIKSCC in a statement strongly condemned the curtailment of basic constitutional rights and the blockade of farmers by the police in Haryana and UP.

“These anti-India actions expose the empty “One Nation” rhetoric of the Modi government, while in reality, farmers are not being allowed to even move from one State to another. The BJP State governments, instead of acting as per their constitutional role, are acting as agents of the Central government. Today Punjab farmers at Haryana border are questioning whether the government of India considers them as part of India or not,” it said.

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Published on November 26, 2020
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