New Delhi: Braving the vagaries of nature, farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders reached a significant milestone on Saturday, when they completed 100 days of protest against the Centre’s three new agriculture laws. The farmers’ protest began on November 25, 2020. Even as the BJP-led government puts up a brave face, insiders say the government is under tremendous pressure and on shaky grounds. Meanwhile, the farmers have planned a host of activities to mark their 100 days of protest – from ‘chakka jam’ to International Women’s Day celebrations.
Punjab's Balbir Singh Rajewal on Saturday said the farmers are ready for the next round of dialogue with the Central government, but they will not accept the three contentious farm laws with modifications.
The three contentious laws are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The farmers fear the laws will lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops, and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
In January, the government had proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1-1.5 years and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution in the interest of the farming community, which the protesting unions had then rejected.
Speaking from the Western Peripheral Expressway in Kundli in Haryana, where the farmers organised a blockade from 11 am to 4 pm to intensify their protest, Rajewal said this protest is just a "symbolic" one against the government on these farm laws and it will become "bigger".
The farmers' strategy is to add more states in the demonstration which completed 100 days on Saturday.
Hundreds of vehicles were stopped as protesting farmers blocked the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway to mark the completion of 100 days of their agitation at the Delhi borders. The call for blocking the KMP Expressway was given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of protesting farmer unions spearheading the agitation against the agriculture-related legislations. Thousands of farmers have been sitting on the Delhi borders since November 26 last year against the three farm laws enacted in September 2020 during the Monsoon Session of Parliament. The farmers say they are "black laws" and "anti-farmer".
Another senior farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said farm unions have never said "no" to talks with the central government, adding that their stand on talks as well as demands have been the same from the beginning. He said the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha has called a meeting on March 9 to decide the next course of action to intensify their ongoing agitation.