NEW DELHI: Agitating farmers have decided to take a cue from none other than PM Modi to drive their message home.
They have accordingly appealed to all and sundry to bang utensils to drown out Modi's monthly Mann ki Baat on radio on December 27. ‘‘We should ask the Prime Minister ‘when will you listen to our baat, ’’ said Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, who is one of the leaders of the protest.
Addressing a joint press conference, leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Jagjit Singh Dalewala said this would be a replay of the optics marked by the banging of utensils, in response to an appeal from the prime minister to create a mass upsurge against the deadly corona virus.
Farmers will also observe a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all sites of protest. ‘‘Eleven people will take turns to fast for 24 hours each," explained Yadav.
‘‘Another humble appeal is for December 23, which is Kisan Diwas (Farmers' Day). To honour the men and women who put food on your table three times a day, please skip one meal,’’ he added.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who was also part of the press conference along with Yadav and Dalewala, said they will request people to not cook lunch for a day in solidarity with us.
On December 26 and 27, farmer groups would send letters to BJP allies (those who are still members of the NDA) to withdraw their support. On these days, Indians living abroad will be requested to approach their respective embassies and urge the Centre to withdraw the laws.
Besides, there will be no toll collection on highways in Haryana from December 25 to 27.
SOCIAL MEDIA CRACKDOWN
In another development, which is likely to raise hackles, Facebook and Instagram accounts used by the agitating farmers were allegedly blocked on Sunday following a live broadcast, rekindling the discussion about online censorship. The farmers also hit out at the raids on intermediaries or commission agents known as Arhtiyas who are supporting them in their agitation against the agriculture laws.
"We have not taken money from industrialists, political parties or Arhtiyas, as is being suggested. The funds in question are from our supporters’ whom we asked for help,’’ said Joginder Ugraha, the chief of one of BKU’s factions. His group -- the largest and the most dominant in Punjab with a huge follower base -- has been issued warning by a bank on alleged foreign funding by NRIs and told to get mandatory registration.
"The government is trying to defame the farmers. The farmers are protesting in the cold... the government should think about us but they are busy defaming us. I appeal to the agriculture minister and the government to drop their ego. I will appeal to youth and children to be calm," farmer leader Jasbir Singh Bhatti said, reports NDTV.