Intensifying their fortnight-long agitation on the borders of the national Capital city of
New Delhi, thousands of farmers blocked the Delhi-Jaipur national highway on Sunday to protest against the government’s new agricultural laws.
Protesting farmers continue to converge at different to points near Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Delhi-Jaipur highway remains under threat of blockade as farmers plan a rally and March to the Capital.
Security has been tightened on border at Haryana which leads to Jaipur. Farmers continue to add to their numbers.
Protesting farmers have also decided to hold a nation-wide demonstration at all district
Headquarters on Monday and observe day-long hunger strike.
Administration and police officials were keeping vigil on Delhi’s borders as policemen
in strength have been deployed near the borders to stop the farmers from blocking
major highways and taking over arterial roads that lead to the Capital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his government’s agricultural reforms on Saturday while addressing the annual general meeting of apex trade body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). “We have taken these initiatives to increase the farmers’ income and make them more prosperous. Today, farmers of India can sell their produce both at the mandis, as well as outside,’’ he said. However, the Prime Minister’s appeal failed to cut any ice with the farmers who have braved winter chill to continue their protest. Mr Modi assured the farmers that the reforms in the agrarian sector were aimed at helping them and bring benefits to them.
For the last two weeks, tens of thousands of farmers, mainly from northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have assembled to register their protest and are demanding total repeal of the three contentious laws passed by Parliament in September.
Several rounds of talks between farmers’ representatives and the government’s ministers have proved inconclusive. On its part, the government has offered to bring about amendments to the three laws but rejected the demand of repealing the laws. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has planned a massive campaign across the country over the next few days, signalling its hardened stance. It plans to hold 100 press conferences, 700 farmers’ meets in as many districts.
A faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) also filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking repeal of the laws. The top court has already issued notices to the Central government on a bunch of petitions challenging the laws.
The agitating farmers have also rejected claims from the government side that their protest has been influenced by “ultra-left’’, describing it as an attempt to defame them. Farmers have expressed apprehensions that the new laws would aid their exploitation by corporates and multinationals and they would be left with unregulated market with no guarantees for procuring their produce at the government-determined Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Amid the Corona pandemic, the protesting farmers at several border points on the outskirts of the Capital have witnessed support from sportspersons, community kitchens and medical professionals. The sites of protests also face the problems of sanitation, hygiene and health.