Police action against them spurs support for farmers

March will continue, SKM-NP’s Shiv Kumar Kakka says; panchayat gathering in Muzaffarnagar will discuss atrocities committed on farmers, says BKU’s Rakesh Tikait says

February 14, 2024 10:35 pm | Updated 10:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Police personnel fire tear gas canisters on farmers as they were advancing towards Delhi to seek enactment of a law on minimum support price  at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024.

Police personnel fire tear gas canisters on farmers as they were advancing towards Delhi to seek enactment of a law on minimum support price at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

Protesting farmers began receiving support from several like-minded groups across the country, a day after the police action on them on Tuesday. Though the Centre maintained that it was ready for discussions, farmer leaders said they have not received any formal information on it from the government.

Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda reiterated on Wednesday that the government was ready for talks. Amid reports that the Centre may deploy Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, too, to hold discussions with the farmers, Mr. Munda requested the farmers to keep in mind the difficulties faced by common people because of their protests. Senior leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha-Non Political (SKM-NP) Shiv Kumar Kakka told The Hindu from Jind in Haryana that the farmers were prepared for the Delhi march. “The government can block the march using all its strength. But we will march ahead,” Mr. Kakka said.

Also read | Charuni-led Haryana farmers’ group condemns police action, convenes meeting to plan strategy

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) made it clear that it would oppose any attacks against farmers. Several constituents of the SKM, including the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) said in separate statements that the use of drones to drop tear gas on farmers showed the “extreme vengeance” the BJP government held for the farmers.

“AIKS warns the BJP Government to desist from such attacks on democratic right to protest. AIKS will join in unity with all democratic forces as well as the SKM and the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions to resist such repressive measures. AIKS demands release of all arrested leaders and end repression,” the AIKS said.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said a panchayat would be organised on February 17 in Muzaffarnagar. “There will be a discussion regarding the atrocities being committed on farmers,” Mr. Tikait said.

The late M.S. Swaminathan’s daughter, economist Madhura Swaminathan, during a speech made on Tuesday at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, urged the Centre to not to treat farmers as criminals. “They are farmers, not criminals. We need to talk to our annadatas. We have to find solutions. In any future strategy we plan, we have to take the farmers with us,” she said.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also condemned the attacks on farmers. “The kind of atrocities that are being meted out to farmers, the barbaric suppression, should be stopped immediately. Their valid demand of MSP, for which they were given an assurance, needs to be fulfilled by the Modi government. If the government tries to go back on their word, it will not succeed,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

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