Farmers to escalate protest if deadlock continues on January 4

Policemen in riot gear warm themselves around a bonfire at the farmer protest site on the Delhi- Haryana border in New Delhi on January 1, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

Farmers groups said they plan to intensify their protest if the Centre does not take a firm decision on the repeal of the three farm laws during the next round of talks on January 4.

Speaking to journalists after an internal meeting on January 1, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders threatened to shut down malls and petrol pumps in Haryana, hold a tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar highway, and march further towards Delhi on the highway from Jaipur unless their demands are met.

Farmers’ protest | Only oral assurances from government, say farmers

Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for 37 straight days. After six rounds of talks with the Centre, they have reached in-principle agreements on issues related to stubble burning and power subsidies, but are deadlocked on the major demands to repeal the three Central laws and provide a legal backing for procurement of crops at minimum support prices.

“The government seems to be taking the farmers protest lightly. In Shaheen Bagh, they were able to disperse the protestors, so they think they can do the same thing with us. But that will not happen,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union-Tikait group general secretary Yudhvir Singh. “If the government does not take a decision on January 4, then the farmers will have to take a decision,” he added.

Bhartiya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti leader Vikas Sisar said the protestors will announce dates to shut down all malls, petrol pumps and toll plazas in Haryana if the deadlock continues. He added that leaders of the BJP and its ally Jannayak Janata Party would face continuous protests in the State.

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This is part of the SKM’s strategy to target National Democratic Alliance (NDA) members and pressure them to quit the alliance and sever ties with the BJP in support of the farmers, they said.

Union leaders also said a tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway surrounding the capital, which was originally planned for December 30, would be held on January 6 if there was no concrete decision in the negotiations.

Protestors currently halted at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will also move forward on the road to Delhi if there is no progress in the talks, said Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav.

On December 31, over a hundred young farmers already broke police barricades at the Shahjahanpur protest site, provoking a confrontation with Haryana Police on the Jaipur-Delhi highway.

Farmers’ protests | Farmers show unflagging resolve

“Only 5% of our issues have been discussed so far. The farmers movement is now in a decisive phase. At the talks on December 30, the tail has come out, but the full elephant is yet to come out,” said Mr. Yadav.

Meanwhile, a group of 866 academics issued a statement in favour of the farm reforms, saying that the three contentious laws “seek to free farm trade from all restriction and enable farmers for all transaction at competitive prices”. The letter, publicised by the Education Ministry, was signed by eight vice-chancellors of Central universities, apart from other professors.

“We strongly believe in the government’s assurance to protect the farmers’ livelihoods, and it will not take the food from their plate. The government is still firmly committed to delivering the principle of minimum government, maximum governance,” said the statement.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 10:44:23 AM |

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