As a few hundred farmers from Western Uttar Pradesh spent their second day under the Ghazipur flyover at Delhi’s border with Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, it was not the first such experience for many of them — several of these farmers had also held a similar sit-in at the same place two years ago after a kisan rally had been stopped with violent force at the border.
On October 2, 2018, a 10-day long Kisan Kranti Yatra by farmers from various states had made news when they were stopped at the Ghazipur border to Delhi by police with tear gas shells, baton charge and water cannons, leaving at least 14 injured.
Many of the farmers from Western Uttar Pradesh who arrived at the border on Saturday in solidarity with the protesting farmers of Haryana and Punjab had been a part of that rally.
“The only thing we received from last time’s protest was todphod, water cannons and lathis. Nothing happened with the demands that we had come forward with. We had asked that the Swaminathan Report be implemented but we didn’t see our struggle lead to any favourable consequences for us,” said Vikas, a farmer from Meerut district.
On similar force used on farmers at the Delhi-Haryana border, he said, “It really seems that there is no democracy in the country, there is no will to even talk to farmers. There is a very simple demand, that we be given a written assurance on the MSP but what protesting farmers are getting is torture.”
Said Ankit Singh (22), from Baghpat district, “We remember everything that had happened last time. The tyres of our tractors had been punctured, elders who were sitting in tractors had been hurt. We were doing a peaceful yatra but that had shaken the government into reacting like that. But two years down the line, we are still struggling with increases in the costs of diesel, electricity, fertilisers and the GST while the price of sugarcane has not changed in four years. We are supposed to be paid by mills for our sugarcane within 14 days of cane delivery but many of us haven’t received payment for 14 months.”
The farmers, affiliated with Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), had settled under the Ghazipur flyover for the night on Saturday. The numbers increased on Sunday as more farmers came in from various villages during the course of the day.
Participating farmers and BKU national head Rakesh Tikait said that they intend to continue to remain at the border in their protest of solidarity.
“Farmers have thousands of issues and our struggles are never ending. Even during the coronavirus lockdown, even though we too were scared of the virus, we had to organise small sit-ins across villages in our district because sugarcane farmers had not yet received payment for the year 2018-2019. The current issue is a problem with all farmers but this government stifles their voices. They did it in 2018, they are doing it now,” said Rajbir Singh, from Ghaziabad district.
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