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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Farmers’ protest enters 100th day: A timeline of how the agitation unfolded

Farmers' protest: The agitation began on November 25 last year, when thousands of farmers marched towards the national capital to demand a complete repeal of the Centre's farm laws.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 6, 2021 10:14:04 pm
Farmers at Singhu border in New Delhi on Friday. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Farmers camping at Delhi’s borders reached a significant milestone on Saturday when they completed 100 days since they first launched their protest against the Centre and its three new agriculture laws. To mark the occasion, the farmers have planned a host of activities over the next few days — from a ‘chakka jam’ to International Women’s Day celebrations.

The protests began on November 25 last year, when thousands of farmers — mainly from Punjab and Haryana — marched towards the national capital demanding a complete repeal of the legislations, as part of a “Dilli Chalo” campaign.

The three contentious laws are the 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. The farmers fear the laws will lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops, and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

A timeline of the farmers’ protest: How it unfolded 

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 gave the call for a ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement. The Delhi Police, however, rejected their request to march to the capital city citing Covid-19 protocols.

November 26, 2020: Farmers marching towards Delhi faced water cannons, tear gas as the police tried to disperse them at Haryana’s Ambala district. Later, police allowed them to enter Delhi for their peaceful protest at Nirankari ground in North-West Delhi.

November 28, 2020: Home Minister Amit Shah offered to hold talks with farmers as soon as they vacate Delhi borders and move to the designated protest site in Burari. However, farmers rejected his offer, demanding to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar.

November 29, 2020: In his Mann Ki Baat programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all political parties had been making promises to the farmers but it was his government that fulfilled their promises.

December 3, 2020: The government held first round of talks with representatives of farmers but the meeting remained inconclusive.

December 5, 2020: The second round of talks between farmers and the Centre also remained inconclusive.

December 8, 2020: Farmers gave a call for Bharat Bandh. Farmers from other states also gave their support to the call.

December 9, 2020: Farmer leaders rejected the Union government’s proposal to amend the three contentious laws and vowed to further intensify their agitation until the laws are repealed.

December 11, 2020: Bharatiya Kisan Union moved the Supreme Court against the three farm laws.

December 13, 2020: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged hand of ‘tukde tukde’ gang in farmer protests and said the government was open to talks with farmers.

December 16, 2020: The Supreme Court said it may constitute a panel having representatives of the government and farmer unions to end the deadlock over the controversial agriculture laws.

December 21, 2020: Farmers held a one-day hunger strike at all protest sites.

December 30, 2020: Sixth round of talks between government and farmer leaders saw some headway as the Centre agreed 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 remained inconclusive with the Centre not agreeing to repeal the farm laws.

January 7, 2021: The Supreme Court agreed 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 11, 2021: The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for its handling of the farmers’ protest. The top court said it would constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the deadlock.

January 12, 2021: The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and set up a four-member committee to make recommendations on the legislations after listening to all stakeholders.

On the same day, Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested by Sonipat police on charges of attempt to murder, rioting, and assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty under the Indian Penal Code, among others. According to the police, Nodeep and her associated attacked a team of police officials that had done to Kundli Industrial area after it heard about the alleged manhandling of management and staff at an industrial unit.

Kaur, a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, claimed she was “targeted and falsely implicated” in the case as she was successful in generating massive support for the ongoing farmer movement against the Centre’s three new farm laws.

January 26, 2021: On Republic day, thousands of protestors clashed with the police during the tractor parade called by farmer unions on January 26, demanding a repeal of the laws.

After several protestors from Singhu and Ghazipur changed their route, they marched towards Central Delhi’s ITO and Red Fort, where police resorted to teargas shelling and lathi charge while some farmers vandalised public property and attacked police personnel. At Red Fort, a section of protesters climbed poles and walls and hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag. One protester died in the chaos.

Till date, more than 44 FIRs have been registered and 127 persons arrested in connection with the violence on Republic Day.

January 28, 2021: Tensions rose at Delhi’s Ghazipur border after the administration in neighbouring UP’s Ghaziabad district issued orders for protesting farmers to vacate the site by night. By evening, as police in anti-riot gear started spreading out at the site, the protesters camped there and their leaders, including BKU’s Rakesh Tikait, said they would not leave.

February 4, 2021: The government slammed “celebrities and others” for their comments in support of farmer protests, calling them “neither accurate nor responsible”. This came after pop icon Rihanna, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and lawyer-author Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, spoke out on the farmer protests.

February 5, 2021: The cyber-crime cell of the Delhi Police has registered an FIR on charges of “sedition”, “criminal conspiracy” and “promoting hatred” against the creators of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, which was shared by Thunberg. The 18-year-old deleted the original tweet on Wednesday but tweeted a revised toolkit on Wednesday night.

February 6, 2021: Protesting farmers held a nationwide ‘Chakka Jam’, or road blockade, for three hours from 12 noon to 3 pm. While several roads across Punjab and Haryana were blocked during that time, elsewhere the ‘chakka jam’ protest evoked a scattered response.

February 9, 2021: Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sindhu, named an accused in the Republic Day violence case, was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on Tuesday morning. He was sent to 7-day police custody later in the evening.

February 14, 2021: The Delhi Police’ arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi for allegedly “editing” the toolkit shared by Thunberg.

February 18, 2021: Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmer unions spearheading the agitations last week, called for a nationwide ‘rail roko’ protest. Trains were stopped, cancelled and rerouted in places around the country. However, a spokesperson for the national transporter said there was negligible or minimal impact on railway services due to the ‘rail roko’ agitation. He said majority of the zonal railways reported no incident due to the protest.

February 23, 2021: 22-year-old activist Disha Ravi was granted bail by a sessions court in Delhi.

February 25, 2021: Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was released from prison after she was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Kaur’s bail plea came up for hearing before the bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan.

February 26, 2021: Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was released from prison on Friday after she was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

March 02, 2021: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and other party leaders were detained by the Chandigarh Police from Sector 25 as they tried to march towards the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to gherao it on Monday afternoon.

March 05, 2021: The Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution asking for the unconditional withdrawal of the farm laws in the interest of the farmers and Punjab, and to continue with the existing system of MSP-based government procurement of foodgrains.

March 06, 2021: Farmers complete 100 days at Delhi’s borders. A host of activities are planned this month to mark the occasion.

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