Farmers mainly from Punjab ― from where SAD MP Simranjeet Kaur Badal hails, who had resigned from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers in protest against the government’s farm sector reforms ― are headed towards Delhi, the national capital. Protesting farmers have assembled in large numbers at the borders in tractor-trolleys carrying rations and other essentials for their protest.
Earlier, around 30 associations of farmers from Punjab had declared plans to reach the capital through a number of routes — Lalru, Shambhu, Patiala-Pehowa, Patran-Khanauri, Moonak-Tohana, Ratia-Fatehabad and Talwandi-Sirsa.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, along with various factions of Bharatiya Kisan Union who joined hands for a “Samyukta Kisan Morcha” wish to press the central government to scrap the new farm laws that free the farmer from the obligation to sell his crop to brokers or the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) market and lets him choose his market from anywhere in the country.
In the meantime, Delhi Police said that the agitating farmers would not be allowed to enter the city. This morning, the cops used tear gas to disperse protesters at the the Singhu Border that connects Delhi with Haryana.
The ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march by farmers is scheduled between 26 and 28 November. The protesters plan to hold a dharna wherever they are stopped during their Delhi-bound march.
The police have sought permission from the Arvind Kejriwal government to use the city’s nine stadiums as temporary jails due to the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.
Policemen have been deployed heavily at the border to stop agitators from entering. Sand-laden trucks and water cannons dot many entry points, as do barbed wires.
The Delhi Metro today announced that exit and entry gates would be closed at six metro stations on the Green Line in view of the protest threat. According to a DMRC statement, “Entry & exit gates of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, Bahadurgarh City, Pandit Shree Ram Sharma, Tikri Border, Tikri Kalan and Ghevra stations on Green Line are now closed.”
Haryana, meanwhile, has put in place prohibitory orders under Section 144 in several areas to stop protesters from gathering.
Security has been tightened at Delhi-Haryana border near Faridabad and Singhu village. Forces from at least two police stations, besides three CRPF battalions, deployed at the Delhi-Faridabad border.
Security has been strengthened near Karna lake in Haryana’s Karnal. A traffic jam has been witnessed on the Delhi-Jammu highway due to protesters’ movement.
In Amritsar, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee has been loading tractor trolleys with essentials that reportedly include food material and cooking utensils.
Indian National Congress (INC) general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra has slammed the BJP, saying that “instead of listening to the voices of the farmers Modi govt is using water cannons to disperse them in cold weather”, as though the farmers were unaware that winter was the ongoing season.
Notwithstanding the clarification from the prime minister that the provisions like the Minimum Support Price (MSP), procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would continue ― and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of additional subsidy to buy fertilisers ― the INC politician tweeted, “Everything is being taken away from the farmers while the capitalists are being given banks, airport, railway stations and loan waiver.”