Groups of farmers on Monday, on a call given by the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to mark “Betrayal Day”, staged protests in various places of Haryana underlining that they were not afraid to hold agitations if need be to get their demands met by the administration.
A few groups of farmers have also called for a two-day protest at Karnal, the hometown of Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, from February 7 to press for several pending demands — like compensation for crops that were damaged due to diseases or natural calamity.
On Monday, farmer leaders said that protests were staged at district headquarters as part of the SKM’s call to observe “Betrayal Day”. Apart from this, demonstrations were held at block or tehsil level too. Farmer leaders added that though the more-than-a-year-long agitation against the now-repealed three contentious farm laws had ended, an army of farmer activists had been created in villages. A farmer leader from Fatehabad, Mandeep Nathwan, said, “Now, there are 4-5 speakers among the farmers at every village who can address the protesters to express their views during dharnas or related events. This is a big change. Now, the farmers and other sections of the society are willing to struggle for their genuine demands.”
By holding nationwide protests on Monday, farmer leaders said, the SKM wanted to press for their remaining demands — like a guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) of crops and removal of Union minister Ajay Mishra from the Cabinet over the massacre in Lakhimpur Kheri. But at the ground level, the issue of withdrawal of FIRs lodged against the farm protesters is still a big issue. A week ago, administration officials had told The Indian Express that the authorities in Haryana have “closed” as many as 87 FIRs out of a total of 278 cases lodged against the protesters in over a year of their protests. Later, a senior officer of the state government had stated that the judges had accepted cancellation/ untraced reports in 69 out of as many as 74 FIRs in which the police had approached the courts. Apart from these FIRs, “the courts have already accepted the request of the police to withdraw cases in 18 FIRs, out of as many as 72 such applications yet.”
However, the protesting farmers want swift action in the withdrawal of cases against them to avoid what they term can be a “breach of promise” on the part of authorities. That’s why the agitators have been closely monitoring the process of “closure” of the cases.
Meanwhile, a few farmer groups have also called for a two-day protest at Karnal from February 7. During the February 7 protests, the farmers will gather at Karnal’s Mini Secretariat before moving towards the residence of CM Khattar, in a “mashal juloos”. According to Nathwan, the release of tubewell connections, adequate supply of irrigation water, and compensation for damaged crops are among the main issues for the fulfillment of which the farmers were launching the protest. Initially, the farmers from Fatehabd, Hisar, Sirsa, Bhiwani, Jind, and Kaithal are being mobilised for February 7 protest.