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Centre gives in, farmers march into Delhi

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 27, 2020 Published on November 27, 2020

Farmers on their way to cross Singhu Border stand at a distance from a police barricade as they prepare to enter Delhi during ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march against the new farm laws, in New Delhi on Friday   -  PTI

Kejriwal govt’s refusal to allow police to use stadiums to detain protesters made the Centre change its stance, say farmer leaders

In a major climb down, the Centre on Friday allowed tens of thousands of farmers  blocked by heavily armed police at the border of Delhi to enter.

They were allowed to camp at Nirankari Grounds in Burari in north-east Delhi.

The  police had stopped the farmers participating in the Delhi Chalo protest coming  through Tikri, Singhu and other borders. Clashes broke out as the police used tear gas and water cannons, particularly at the Tikri border, as the protestors attempted to remove the barricades and barbed wire put to block their passage.

The farmers are protesting against three recently passed farm reform laws that impact agriculture products marketing and support pricing, and the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. The Delhi Chalo march has been called by nearly 500 farmer organisations under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

No place to put them

Apart from the unity shown by the farmers, what forced the Central government to give in was Delhi government’s resolute position that it would not allow Delhi Police to use eight stadiums in the capital as temporary prisons for putting farmers, said a farmer leader belonging to All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella organisation of nearly 250 farmer groups. AIKSCC together with 30-odd farmer unions from Punjab and Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh of Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’, a farmer leader known for his close ties with the RSS, was spearheading the protest.

“While RSS–BJP govt unleashed inhuman water cannoning in this bitter cold and tear-gassed them, farmers have shown exemplary discipline and restraint in peacefully pushing ahead to Delhi. Roads have been dug up by administration to prevent farmers from travelling but farmers have filled up the ditches with their own hands,” said an AIKSCC statement here.

Earlier in the day, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha sent a letter to the Prime Minister to give permission to the farmers to enter Delhi and make arrangements for their stay. It also urged the Prime Minister to stop putting obstacles in the path of democratic assertion by India’s farmers.

‘State stance’

Farmer groups castigated Union Agriculture Minister’ assertion that talks with farmers would be held on December 3. “The Central government has no declared agenda to discuss with the farmers. Farmers are clear about their agenda which is that the three Acts and the Electricity Bill 2020 have to go. If the Central government has any stand on this, it should state so. If not, it should not create any confusion about talks,” the statement said.

Farmer leaders, however, had a word of praise for Kejriwal government for not bowing to the pressure from the Centre. “They really upheld federal nature of our Constitution,” said Krishna Prasad, a leader of All India Kisan Sabha.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is said to be monitoring arrangements being made at Nirankari Grounds where tens of thousands of farmers from different parts of the country. Kejriwal has asked his senior Cabinet colleague Satyendra Jain and Delhi Jal Board Vice Chairman Raghav Chadha to supervise the arrangements being made.

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Published on November 27, 2020
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