Thousands of farmers from Haryana and Punjab are heading to the national capital as part of the protest march against the Centre's farm laws.
These farmers, representing over 30 farm bodies, announced that on November 26 and 27, they would march to Delhi covering routes like Lalru, Shambhu, Patiala-Pehowa, Patran-Khanauri, Moonak-Tohana, Ratia-Fatehabad, and Talwandi-Sirsa to protest against the new farm laws and push for other demands. Farmer bodies have said they will hold a dharna wherever they are stopped from moving towards the national capital.
The protest march continues:
Braving chilly nights, thousands of protesting farmers from Punjab and Haryana gathered in Panipat, and resumed their onward journey on tractor-trailers on Friday towards the national capital to protest over the Centre's new agriculture laws.
Standing united, these farmers, on Thursday, braved tear gas shells and water cannons to break through police barricades at several places — first, on the Punjab-Haryana border, and then within Haryana. Marching through Haryana they were joined by an equal number of local farmers.
On Friday morning, the situation remained much the same. There was a heavy presence of security personnel at the Singhu border (Haryana-Delhi border) and barricades laced with barbwires blocked the way forward.
The Delhi Police, on Friday, used tear gas shells to disperse a group of farmers who had reached the Singhu border as part of their 'Delhi Chalo'. The shells were fired at the border point, which connects Delhi with Haryana.
On Thursday, several protesters and policemen were injured as farmers broke barricades and threw them down from a bridge ahead of the Punjab-Haryana border in Shambhu near Haryana's Ambala. A huge contingent of police, comprising of the Rapid Action Force, had been deployed at all entry points in Haryana, while residents of several towns located along the Punjab-Haryana border faced a difficult time due to the heavy deployment of the security forces and snapping of the bus services in the past 24 hours.
What are their demands?
The farmers are protesting against the new farm laws as they believe the laws will reduce their earnings, and make large retailers more powerful. Farmers protesting against the farm laws have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.
One of the biggest demands of the farmers is a rollback of the three agri reform laws passed by the Parliament a few months back. The farmer unions say these rules are not in their favour and will promote privatisation of agriculture, and, in turn, benefit hoarders and big corporate houses.
While the government said the three laws will do away with middlemen, enabling farmers to sell their produce in the commercial markets, protestors fear that this could lead to the government not buying produce at guaranteed prices, thereby disrupting their timely payments.
They are also demanding a written assurance in the form of a bill that the MSP and conventional food grain procurement system for the central pool will continue in the future. Amandeep, a farmer, while speaking to ANI said: "The main demand is that they should listen to us. They have brought farm laws and still, they are not hearing us. If the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Arhtiyas system (middlemen or service providers) are removed then what will the farmers do?"
The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by the Upper House in September through voice vote despite objection from opposition parties.
(Inputs from Agencies)