Demonstrations in Punjab, farmers marching from Haryana and U.P. to Delhi stopped at State borders
Members of several farmer outfits in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh staged demonstrations on Monday to protest against the Centre’s agriculture-related ordinances and to demand their immediate withdrawal.
Hundreds of farmers marching from Haryana and western U.P. towards the national capital to participate in a protest called by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) at Jantar Mantar were stopped at the State borders.
In Punjab, farmers held demonstration in Amritsar, Moga, Barnala, Patiala and Phagwara by holding sit-ins under the banner of the All India Kissan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of over 250 farmers and farmworkers’ organisations.
Farmers were seen shouting slogans and demanding immediate withdrawal of all the three ordinances.
Rattan Mann, president of the Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait), said farmers on their way to participate in the demonstration at Jantar Mantar were stopped by the Delhi police. “We were stopped at Kundli border. We want the government to understand that these ordinances in the present shape are not going to benefit the farming community. A legislation must be brought securing Minimum Support Price (MSP) of all crops, including fruits and vegetables,” said Mr. Mann.
“Farmers all over India are opposing these ordinances. The government is trying to present these ordinances as a big step towards agricultural reforms in the form of ‘One Nation, One Market’, but actually these ordinances will result in ‘company rule’ in the agricultural sector. Some of the State governments are also demanding withdrawal of these three ordinances, believing it to be a violation of the federal structure of the country,” he said.
Stopped at Ghazipur
Farmers from western U.P., mainly Meerut, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Ghaziabad, and Gautam Buddh Nagar, marching towards Jantar Mantar were stopped at the Delhi-U.P. border in Ghaziapur.
Describing the ordinances “anti-farmer”, Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of BKU, said: “Crops purchased at less than MSP must be included in the category of punishable crime.”
After holding a sit-in protest for four hours, which led to a jam at the border, the police allowed senior members to submit a memorandum at Krishi Bhawan.
The memorandum, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said farmers were living in fear that these ordinances would make them captive of corporates.
Terming the ordinances a “violation of the federal structure”, senior BKU leader Dharmendra Malik said government mandis provided a ‘check and balance’ to the role of private players in the process of buying and selling of crops.
Similar protests were also held in Meerut and Aligarh.
In Meerut, agitated farmers tried to push tractor trolleys inside the collectorate. Despite heavy police presence, farmers broke the cordon and entered the collectorate. Members of the youth wing of the Samajwadi Party were also part of the protest.
Yogendra Singh, a farmer, said they were already reeling under non-payment of cane dues and rise in electricity rates. “These ordinances will break our back,” he said