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Farmers join Congress rallies in Bengaluru to support Delhi stir, top leaders detained

As part of the symbolic protest to express solidarity with the protesting farmers, who have planned a mega tractor rally on Delhi’s borders on Republic Day, Shivakumar, along with former CM Siddaramaiah took part in one of the rallies, on a tractor.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
January 20, 2021 10:01:26 pm
Protesters, led by Congress leaders, moved towards Raj Bhavan during which they were stopped by the police, leading to heated arguments and scuffles. (Express photo)

Hundreds of farmers joined Congress workers in rallies across Bengaluru on Wednesday to express solidarity with their counterparts on the fringes of Delhi, who have been holding protests for close to two months now demanding withdrawal of the contentious farm laws.

Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar alleged that farmers coming to Bengaluru from across the state in response to its ‘Raj Bhavan Chalo’ call, were being stopped by the police. However, the Congress urged the farmers and its supporters to continue with their protests.

“This is a protest called to make the voice of the protesting farmers echo across the country. Our movement will continue till all three anti-farmer laws are withdrawn. The (central) government has chosen to turn a blind eye to the plight of the farming community,” Shivakumar said.

As part of the symbolic protest to express solidarity with the protesting farmers, who have planned a mega tractor rally on Delhi’s borders on Republic Day, Shivakumar, along with former CM Siddaramaiah took part in one of the rallies, on a tractor.

Siddaramaiah, the leader of Opposition in the Assembly, accused the Centre of “being stubborn” towards the farmers agitating on the borders of Delhi. “They have been living through the harsh winter on the streets, ignoring chilly winds, rain and the sun, over the last 58 days, demanding that the three farm laws be repealed. The least Prime Minister Narendra Modi could do was not to try and supress their movement,” he said, addressing protesters gathered at Freedom Park.

“Despite ten rounds of talks with farmers’ representatives, no attempt has been made by the government to resolve the matter. It shows the stubbornness of the Centre,” the former CM said.

Later in the day, protesters, led by Congress leaders, moved towards Raj Bhavan during which they were stopped by the police, leading to heated arguments and scuffles. Leaders, including Shivakumar, Siddarmaiah, SR Patil, Salim Ahmed and Sowmya Reddy, were forced into a police bus and detained thereafter. According to the police, they were taken to City Armed Reserve headquarters at Chamarajpet in Bengaluru.

“The Yediyurappa government and the police are trying to disrupt peaceful protests, which I strongly condemn. They (BJP) have no faith in our democratic set-up,” Siddaramaiah said as he was being detained.

Sowmya Reddy, Congress MLA from Jayanagar, alleged that the police tried to misbehave with her during a scuffle.

In a complaint addressed to City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant, she wrote, “I have no problem in getting arrested but I don’t understand why the police were treating us like criminals. I told them I will go but my hair was pulled and I was being grabbed everywhere and I even fell down.” Later in the evening, Reddy met the top cop requesting him to ensure good treatment to women protestors in the city.

A few hours later, the leaders submitted a memorandum addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, through Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, demanding that the Centre to withdraw the farm laws and bring down fuel prices.

“PM Modi himself should speak to the delegation of millions of farmers who are sitting around Delhi, and should announce the immediate withdrawal of 12,000 FIRs vis-a-vis burning of stubbles against farmers without any condition,” the memorandum stated.

It added, “If they (Centre) want to improve these laws, then they should bring a fourth law, make MSP (minimum support price) mandatory and make it punishable if someone does not adhere to MSP.”

However, leaders of the ruling BJP accused the Congress of “spreading lies”. BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi tweeted, “Through the path breaking #FarmLaws, PM @narendramodi Government is liberating our Farmers from the clutches of the Middlemen. I want to ask @INCIndia and other Opposition parties, how long should our Annadaatas be at the mercy of your Middlemen?”

Deputy CM C N Ashwathnarayan wrote, “The real farmers of our nation are firm with PM @narendramodi Ji! In the name of ‘Raj Bhavan Chalo’ @INCKarnataka is peddling fake news about the #FarmLaws ! Our people will not fall prey to this hypocrisy!”

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