India

Farmers face detention, water cannons during ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest call in Delhi, other states

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New Delhi: On the first day of the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest call, at least hundred farmers from several states of India who were trying to move towards New Delhi to join the protest rally, were detained by the police on Thursday.

The two-day protest call was given by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, and various factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union over the new agricultural laws announced by the Government of India.

In BJP-ruled states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, authorities adopted severe measures to thwart the protests. Besides this, at least 100 local farmer leaders’ were detained and prevented them from joining the protest rally, reports from Delhi suggest.

Haryana had heavily barricaded its borders with Punjab a day before the demonstrations and halted its bus service to the neighbouring state in an effort to impede the march. Near Kurukshetra in Haryana, “water cannons” were also used against farmers.s

In view of the call, heavy deployment of armed forces personnel have been put in service and drones are being used for surveillance at the Singhu border (Delhi-Haryana border).

Separate rallies between Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand were halted in Uttar Pradesh. As farmers continue to make their way to Delhi, tear-gas shells, water cannons were used on them at many locations.

Yogendra Yadav, the leader of Swaraj India and political activist, was arrested on Thursday by the Haryana Police near the Delhi-Jaipur Highway as he tried to join farmers bound for Delhi to demonstrate against the agricultural laws and other policies of the government.

‘Capt Amarinder Singh, I’m saying it again, I’ll leave politics if there’ll be any trouble on MSP – therefore, please stop inciting innocent farmers. I’ve been trying to reach out to you for last 3 days but sadly you decided to stay unreachable…,’ tweets Haryana CM ML Khattar.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Thursday lashed out at the BJP-led government in Haryana for stopping farmers from moving towards Delhi, saying the use of “brute force” against them is “totally undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

Supporting the farmer’s protest, Delhi CM said that peaceful demonstration was a constitutional right of the farmers.

“All the three farming bills of the central government are anti-farmer. Instead of withdrawing them, farmers are being prevented from holding peaceful demonstrations, water cannons are being used on them. This is absolutely wrong. Peaceful demonstrations are their constitutional right,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

According to a report by news organisation NDTV, the farmers managed to break the barricade and were on their way to Karnal, marching through Kurukshetra.

The farmers’ section was already marching towards Sonipat, where they stayed overnight and left today morning for Delhi.

Major deployed of forces personnel was made at Gurugram on the Delhi-Haryana frontier, and on the Haryana line, the build-up is the heaviest, reported NDTV.

The Delhi Police had previously refused all requests from farmers’ organisations from six states, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab, to stage a rally against farm laws in New Delhi and said they would take legal action against violators.

In view of the coronavirus epidemic, the police have cited the legislation prohibiting meetings in view of the COVID outbreak.

As Punjab farmers called off their week-long rail blockade for 15 days to permit the entry of essential items, the march to Delhi was called.

On December 3, the GoI invited farmers, who want to repeal the farm rules, for the second round of talks.

But with the first meeting round dropping through last month as it was skipped by both the agriculture minister and his deputy, the farmers decided to make their case with the major protest march. Today, Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal posted his protest in a series of tweets.

“By stopping Punjabi farmers from peacefully exercising democratic rights, Center is repeating 1980 when the Akalis were stopped from entering Delhi to protest. Painful history must not be forced to repeat itself,” he tweeted.

In another post, he condemned the actions of Haryana government in “cutting Punjab off from the rest of the country”.

“PMO must intervene to ensure that this is stopped immediately and the Annadatas are not harassed and humiliated or stopped from reaching Delhi. The nation owes an eternal debt to Kisans and Jawans,” reads the second tweet.

Farmers have been up against laws that the GoI has called ‘historic reforms’ in the farm sector for almost three months. The rules, the government said would help farmers raise their income and liberate them from middlemen’s intrusion.

Farmers are licenced to sell produce anywhere in the country under the current legislation and negotiate directly with major companies, a condition that farmers have deemed concerning. Most fear that they will be left at the hands of large corporations and will not even get the minimum support price for their goods with the phasing out of agricultural wholesale APMC markers.

 

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