On November 26, 2020, hundreds of farmers began marching towards Delhi's borders in protest against three recently passed farm laws. The agitators congregated in and around Delhi, setting up makeshift camps and braving heat, cold and the COVID-19 pandemic to make their points heard. Multiple rounds of talks with the Central government failed to resolve the issue, and six months later they still remain in the vicinity of Delhi, with no clear end in sight.
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On Wednesday, protesting farmers at the Ghaziabad border observed a 'black day' amid heavy security deployment. Visuals shared by news agency ANI showed men and women waving black flags and milling about even as uniformed officials stood by. As people gathered, security has also been tightened at Delhi's Singhu border.
The protest comes even as Punjab, Haryana and Delhi are observing a lockdown due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation. But while many were photographed wearing masks, some appeared to be ignoring both social distancing protocols and rules regarding mask usage.
The hashtag 'National Black Day' is now trending on Twitter, used by the Congress and other critics. Similar hashtags are also being used by the protesters. Visuals shared by the Kisan Ekta Morcha Twitter handle shows farmers lighting effigies on fire and protests with posters and black flags in various parts of the country.
Several political figures have also joined the protests, with Punjab MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu putting up a black flag at his residence in Patiala on Tuesday in support of the protests.
'Black Day. Farmers and farmer supporters from different parts of the nation have participated and raised black flags at their houses, shops etc. and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Modi. It's #6MonthsOfFarmersProtest and still decision stands inconclusive," the official handle of the protest tweeted.
While May 26 does mark six months from the beginning of the ongoing agitation, there is greater significance to the date. "That is the day PM Narendra Modi led Government took oath of office in 2014 and then again on 30th May in 2019. 26th May is the day when the Chalo Dilli Kisan Andolan completes six months. It is also the day when the All India Strike called by the Central Trade Unions becomes six months old," read an official release by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha.
The three farm laws brought in by the government are -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Over the last six months, several states governed by Opposition parties have spoken out against the contentious laws, and on Wednesday it was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin's turn. The newly appointed leader said that his government would bring a resolution in the state Assembly asking the Union government to withdraw the three farm laws.
(with inputs from agencies)