New Delhi: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farm unions, has decided not to hold any formal talks with the government, until it stops harassment and frees the detained farmers.
Clearly outraged over images of multi-layered barricading, nails embedded in roads and walls erected at farmers' protest sites, the union leaders said this kind of blockade has not been seen even on India's borders. They see in it a clear sign that the government is disinterested in further talks and are not swayed by PM Modi’s claim that he is just a phone call away.
The Morcha has given a fresh call for a blockade of all national and state highways on Saturday for three hours to register their protest against the government for slapping draconian laws on the peaceful protestors.
In a statement, it condemned the heavy barricading, including digging of trenches, erecting barbed-wire fences, closing of service roads, clamp down on internet and mobile services, and the police picking up farmers to intimidate them.
"Kanoon wapsi nahi, to ghar wapsi nahi (farmers won't go home until the three farm laws are withdrawn), this is our slogan and answer to the government,’’ declared Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, asserting that the agitation will not end anytime soon but go on till October.
The Morcha further termed the "frequent internet shutdown" at protest sites and blocking of Twitter accounts related to the movement as a "direct attack on democracy."
"You can't stop us with your barriers or nails! We were peaceful, are peaceful and will remain peaceful. Don't provoke us with your planted goons," the Morcha said, with the hashtag #FencingLikeChinaPak, after Twitter lifted blockade of its account effected on Monday on the request of the Centre.
The Punjab chief minister held an all-party meeting that was boycotted by the BJP and it decided to engage a band of 50 lawyers to defend the farmers arrested or detained in Delhi and get them released. The meeting passed a resolution to immediately withdraw the three farm laws enacted last September and demand the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops. The resolution also called for a judicial probe into laxity/complexity of those responsible for maintaining law and order at Red Fort on the Republic day.
Meanwhile, a two-judge Delhi High Court bench on Tuesday dismissed a PIL, seeking immediate release of persons alleged detained illegally by the police since January 26 in connection with the protests. Instead, it directed the police to take action in accordance with law on the FIRs registered in connection with the Republic Day violence.