Ghaziabad: Thousands of farmers from across Uttar Pradesh spent Monday night on the roads under the open sky here as they were not allowed to enter the national capital — their destination for protest. A group of about 150 women farmers from Sultanpur — situated at a distance of 140 km from the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow — came in trains and buses to support the demands raised by the farmers.
“We came here as the farmers are facing issues and there is no one to listen to us. I came with my entire family including my daughter-in-law and a six-month-old granddaughter,” Shamlalli, 55, told IANS on Tuesday morning. Both her husband and son are farmers. Recalling her experience of spending a night on the roadside, she said although they live in the open, this was difficult.
“We are not used to living inside rooms but sleeping in traffic was different. Plus, we heard the city is unsafe for women, so we were also really worried,” the woman said.
Not only ladies, but teenage girls were also part of the gathering of farmers who marched under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. “How can they think that we can be dangerous? We only want the government to address our issues,” she added. Echoing her, 32-year-old Rashmi Yadav said: “The authorities decided to stop us even after knowing for long that we will be here.
“First, no one is bothered about our demands, and now they are not even allowing us to protest and raise our issues,” Rashmi told IANS. Claiming to be over 50,000 in number, BKU protesters were on a march from Haridwar in Uttarakhand to reach the national capital.
Asked how they managed the night, 47-year-old Jhalak Singh from Muzaffarnagar — 128 km from Delhi — said they did not expect to be stopped like this. “We are farmers, we are not here to bother people but to raise our demands. Some of us came in cars, some in tractor-trolleys and some on buses and trains.
“We have made arrangements for our food and also brought sheets with us to sleep. But we were not expecting that we will be forced to spend the night on the sides of the main road. There were ladies with us as well,” he said. The farmers have a charter of 15 demands including loan waiver and fair prices for crops, which they want implemented without delay.
The demands include complete loan waiver, revoking ban on 10-year-old tractors in the National Capital Region, reduction in electricity tariff, implementation of the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission on remunerative prices and payment of sugarcane arrears among others. The protesters started their 10-day march from Haridwar in Uttarakhand led by the BKU and on Tuesday they reached the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border. There was heavy deployment of security forces at the border.
On Tuesday, as the thousands of farmers tried to enter Delhi, police stopped them on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, triggering violence that left some of them injured.