Farmers’ protests | Amid street clashes, fresh support pours in for farmers

In this combo picture, policemen come under attack during clashes between people claiming to be local villagers and farmers (left) and a policeman pins down a farmer at the Singhu border in New Delhi on January 29, 2021. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma and PTI  

In a renewed push to the farmers agitation against the three contentious farm laws after the unions appeared to be on the back foot following the Republic Day violence and police action, support poured in from parts of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on Friday.

The leaders of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint front of farmer unions, also announced that they would observe January 30 as “Sadhbhawna Diwas” (Goodwill Day) and observe a day-long fast at all protest sites. They appealed to the public to join them. The announcement came at a press conference late in the evening.

Also read | Farmers face pressure to leave protest sites

In a resurgence, farmers outfits, “panchayats”, and “khaps” across the three States assured support to the movement, even as clashes broke out between “locals” and the farmers at Singhu border during the day with incidents of stone-pelting. The police had to use tear gas and lathicharge to bring the situation under control.

Tikait outburst

Attempts by the U.P. administration to vacate the sit-in at Ghazipur late on Thursday, sparked an emotional outburst from Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who blamed the BJP for vitiating the atmosphere, and saw a dramatic surge in the number of farmers at the Delhi-U.P. after midnight. As Mr. Tikait’s outburst went viral, thousands headed to the site from western U.P. and Haryana through the night and early hours of Friday.

Several political leaders including Rashtriya Lok Dal vice-president Jayant Chaudhary, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Swaraj Abhiyan’s Yogendra Yadav and Haryana Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda also reached the Ghazipur protest site in solidarity with Mr. Tikait.

Also read | No retreat, Rahul Gandhi tells farmers

A ‘mahapanchayat’ called by BKU president Naresh Tikait in U.P.’s Muzaffarnagar, it was decided that there would be no compromise with the dignity of farmers.

Mr. Yadav said the battle of Ghazipur would prove to be Waterloo for [Prime Minister] Mr. Modi and [U.P. Chief Minister] Mr. Yogi. “In every major war there is a battle that turns everything around. And in this war of the farmers this battle of Ghazipur has turned everything around,” said Mr. Yadav.

Farmers’ outfits in Punjab and Haryana also started mobilising fresh batches of farmers to reach the protest sites to ensure that the agitation doesn't fizzle out. Panchayats were also held in several parts of Haryana late on Thursday night expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers and vowing to continue their support to the movement.

Also read | Rahul Gandhi has given a call for violence: BJP

Massive support

The unions claimed that farmers in Haryana took over the protest sites at Rohad, Sampla, Bastara and Panipat toll plazas a day after the local administration managed to get them vacated.

At a khap panchayat in Haryana’s Rohtak called by Dadri MLA and Sangawan khap president Sombir Sangwan, the representatives of around 150 khaps reiterated their support to the movement and decided to send batches of ten thousand farmers each to the protest sites around Delhi.

“The khap leaders also condemned the Red Fort incident and demanded that the accused be punished. The people have seen through the design of the government to defame the farming community and it has caused lot of resentment among them,” said Mr. Sangwan.

At the Singhu border, a group of people claiming to be the residents of the neighbouring villages clashed with the farmers in the afternoon and demanded that the interstate highway blocked for over two months be cleared. Despite heavy police deployment, the “locals” entered the protest area and uprooted the tents seet up by protesters, followed by stone pelting after which the farmers also retaliated.

The Delhi Police had to fire tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to bring the situation under control.

The All-India Kisan Sabha, in a press statement, condemned the violence saying that it was “planned” and was carried out by “organised goons supporting the ruling party”.

“The AIKS also notes that the Sangh Parivar has orchestrated violence with active connivance of the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana police at Ghazipur, Palwal and Shahjahanpur and is seeking to create a civil strife kind of a situation,” said the press statement.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 6:44:56 AM |

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