A day ahead of a farmers’ rally by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) against Centre’s farm ordinances, prohibitory orders under Section 144 were imposed in Pipli (Kurukshetra) to prevent gathering of more than four people. While several key farmer leaders of Haryana went underground ahead of the rally to avoid arrest, the administration pulled all stops to ensure that the farmers don’t gather at the rally venue.
According to officials, the rally cannot be allowed at a time when the cases of coronavirus are increasing at a fast pace in the state. Officials also added that they would try to stop farmers in their respective districts so that they may not be able to move to the rally venue in Pipli. They said that efforts were on to convince the farmers to stage symbolic protests in their districts.
Sources said that in Kurukshetra district alone as many as 54 nakas would be installed to stop the entry of the protesters adding as many as 600 policemen would be deployed in the district on Thursday.
Kurukshetra SP Astha Modi told The Indian Express the administration won’t permit their congregation on Thursday. “We have put a system in place, we have installed three tiered nakas. We are sealing the district. We won’t permit the entry of the agitators,” said the SP.
However, the BKU backed by several other farmer unions has announced that it will go ahead with its plan for the rally. Independent MLA from Meham, Balraj Kundu, has also announced that he would be moving towards the rally venue along with his supporters to extend support to the agitating farmers. “I won’t allow injustice to the farmers,” said Kundu.
Attempt to convince farmers
In an attempt to convince the agitators to cancel their rally, Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister J P Dalal said that a meeting was held between BKU state president Gurnam Singh Chaduni and state officials late on Tuesday evening. But officials said that the rally has not been cancelled since.
Dalal on Wednesday said the state government was committed to providing Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all the crops of the farmers of the state. Besides this, he added, the government is also dedicated towards further expanding government mandis in the state.
The farmers are protesting as they have apprehensions they qill not get the MSP for their crops after the implementation of new provisions of the law. They also feel the new law will hit the current system of mandis badly.
However, the minister clarified that with the introduction of these ordinances, the government mandis will not be closed and procurement of crops on MSP will continue. He said the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has already given directions to the officers concerned to draft a policy to ensure the trade inside the mandis does not get hampered due to procurement done outside the mandis.
“Crores are being spent for developing the infrastructure of mandis in the state,” said Dalal.
Cong guns for govt
However, the opposition has criticised the government alleging that raids are being conducted to arrest farmer leaders. Farmers, meanwhile, have argued they should be allowed to hold the rally just like various functions being held by the ruling BJP are being allowed.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala condemned the “illegal detention of Haryana’s farmer leaders to sabotage the proposed ‘Kissan Bachao- Mandi Bachao’ Rally”.
Asking the BJP-JJP government to refrain from its crude attempt to undermine the joint strength of farmers, traders and labourers, Surjewala said that the venue of the public meeting, Pipli Mandi, Kurukshetra has been converted into a ‘police cantonment’ and “shopkeepers of the grain market are being served notices for closing their shops”.
Surjewala said that a notice was served at the house of Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni. “Police raided the house of Jile Singh Danauda for his arrest and a notice was pasted at Vikas Sisar’s house in Hisar district. Yamunanagar farmer leader Harpal Singh is untraceable since today morning. The anti-farmer, anti-traders, anti-workers face of the Khattar government stands exposed with the illegal detention of farmer leaders,” he said.
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