Updated: January 28, 2021 3:43:20 pm
The over two-month-old peaceful farmers’ protest organised at various borders of the national capital took a violent turn on January 26 when a proposed tractor march went off its pre-designated route, leaving behind a trail of anarchy in Delhi on Republic Day. The protesting farmers clashed with the police, broke barricades, and attacked the police vehicles before entering the Red Fort complex. The violence has created deep fissures in the ranks of farmer unions after two of them called off their protest.
The farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, who have been camping at Delhi’s borders since November 25 last year, have been demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws promulgated by the Centre, fearing that they would lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops and would leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
The three laws are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Here is a timeline of how the farmers’ stir unfolded until now
November 25, 2020: After sporadic protests against the new farm laws, including a nationwide road blockade on November 3, farmers’ unions in Punjab and Haryana give a call for ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement. The Delhi Police, however, rejects their request to march to the capital city citing Covid-19 protocols.
November 28, 2020: Home Minister Amit Shah offers to hold talks with farmers as soon as they vacate Delhi borders and move to the designated protest site in Burari. However, farmers reject his offer, demanding to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar.
December 3, 2020: The government holds first round of talks with representatives of farmers but the meeting remains inconclusive.
December 5, 2020: The second round of talks between farmers and the Centre remains inconclusive.
December 9, 2020: Farmer leaders reject the Union government’s proposal to amend the three contentious laws and vow to further intensify their agitation until the laws are repealed.
December 11, 2020: Bharatiya Kisan Union moves the Supreme Court against the three farm laws.
December 13, 2020: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleges hand of ‘tukde tukde’ gang in farmer protests and says the government is open to talks with farmers.
December 16, 2020: The Supreme Court says it may constitute a panel having representatives of the government and farmer unions to end the deadlock over the controversial agriculture laws.
December 30, 2020: Sixth round of talks between government and farmer leaders witnesses some headway as the Centre agrees to exempt farmers from stubble burning penalty and drop changes in Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020.
January 4, 2021: Seventh round of talks between government and farmer leaders also remains inconclusive with the Centre not agreeing to repeal the farm laws.
January 7, 2021: The Supreme Court agrees to hear petitions challenging the new laws and those against the protests on January 11. This comes even as Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that talks between farmers and the Centre “may just work”.
January 8, 2021: The eighth round of negotiations between the farmer unions and the Centre fails to break the deadlock. While the unions remain adamant on a complete repeal of the law, the government asserts the farm laws have been welcomed by a large section of farmers in other states across the country and asked the unions to think in the interest of the nation.
January 11, 2021: The Supreme Court raps the Centre for its handling of the farmers’ protest. The top court says it would constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the deadlock.
January 12, 2021: The Supreme Court stays the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and sets up a four-member committee to make recommendations on the legislations after listening to all stakeholders.
January 14, 2021: Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of BKU (Mann) and chairman of All India Kisan Coordination Committee recuses himself from the Supreme Court-appointed panel to hear pleas against farm laws.
January 15, 2021: The ninth round of talks remain inconclusive as the government asks the farmers to be more flexible.
January 18, 2021: Supreme Court says it cannot give any order allowing a tractor rally by farmers on Republic Day. It asks the Delhi Police to take a call.
January 19, 2021: NIA files multiple cases against SFJ, a pro-Khalistani outfit, for sending foreign funds through NGOs for “on-ground campaign and propaganda against Government of India” at farmer protests.
January 20, 2021: Government offers to put farm laws on hold for 18 months during the tenth round of talks with farmers. However, after initial discussions, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha rejects the proposal.
January 24, 2021: Delhi Police gives permission to farmers to hold a tractor rally on Republic Day, January 26. Three routes are finalised for the march.
January 26, 2021: The tractor rally goes off the designated route, leading to violent clashes between the farmers and police. Protesting farmers break barricades, ram their tractors into police vehicles and are met with teargas and lathicharge in return. A 27-year-old person dies during the protest and over 300 policemen are reportedly injured.
A group of protesters force their way into the Red Fort, taking hold of the monument and hoisting a Khalsa flag on a staff on which the prime minister unfurls the Tricolour on Independence Day.
Even as the Samyukta Kisan Morcha washes off its hands from the protest, police begin probe into the violence.
January 27, 2021: The Delhi Police files at least 25 FIRs, including farmer leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yogendra Yadav. Two farmers unions, BKU (Bhanu) and Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, withdraw from the protest at the borders of Delhi.
The opposition parties try to gherao the government over its alleged connection with actor Deep Sidhu, who is allegedly responsible for the Red Fort breach on Republic Day. The BJP denies having any links with Sidhu.
The farmers also postponed their proposed march to the Parliament on February 1, the Budget Day.
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