Farmers’ Protest HIGHLIGHTS: Amarinder urges farmers to accept Shah’s appeal
Thousands of farmers were allowed to enter the national capital on Friday evening after clashes with the police, who used tear gas, water cannons and lathis to block their march from Haryana.
By: Express Web Desk | Chandigarh, Gurgaon, New Delhi |
Updated: November 29, 2020 1:14:24 pm
Farmers shout slogans after burning an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, on Saturday. (Reuters)
As farmers stayed put at Delhi’s Singhu and Tikri borders borders, Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday assured that the government is ready to hold talks with the protesting farmers and urged them to shift their protest site to the designated place at the Nirankari Samagam Ground in Delhi’s Burari. Farmers, who have refused to move to the site, have been demanding a nod for demonstrating at Jantar Mantar.
“If farmers’ unions want to hold discussions before December 3, I want to assure you all that as soon as you shift your protest to a structured place, the government will hold talks to address your concerns the very next day,” Shah said.
Security remains heightened at the Delhi-Haryana border at Tikri as farmers, who are opposing the three central farm laws, stayed put at the Delhi border points for the third consecutive day today. Thousands of farmers were allowed to enter the national capital on Friday evening after clashes with the police, who used tear gas, water cannons and lathis to block their march from Haryana.
Angry at the obstacles placed in the way of farmers marching to Delhi, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a grouping of 500 farm unions, shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday urging him to provide them safe passage to Ram Leela Ground in Delhi. Meanwhile, Navdeep Singh (26), who had grabbed headlines for climbing atop water cannon to turn it off during farmers stir in Ambala district on November 25, has been booked for attempt to murder. The police have accused them of attempting to run over policemen with a speeding tractor-trolley by breaking the police barricading.
Farmers' protest LIVE updates: Delhi police is using trucks filled with sand to stop farmers at the Singhu border.
Farmers' protest LIVE updates
The showdown between police and the protesting farmers, who showed up in hundreds of vehicles, tractors and trolleys, took place at the Singhu border on GT Karnal Road. By Friday afternoon, police stepped back, allowing farmers to head to the Nirankari Ground in Burari, less than a kilometre away. Many farmers, though, appeared reluctant to move, and were still at the border late evening.
With the Centre making no new effort to reach out to the farmers — Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, reiterating that farmer organisations had been called for another round of talks on December 3, urged protesters to return in view of Covid-19 and winter — Delhi Police sought permission from the Delhi government to use nine stadiums as makeshift detention centres.
Protesting farmers are carrying drinking water in tankers (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)
Police deployment at Singhu border had been heavy since early morning, and barbed wires and huge slabs of concrete were placed in the middle of GT Karnal Road. More than 30 concrete barriers were placed on both sides of the highway, alongside steel barricades laced with barbed wires. Behind the barricades, hundreds of personnel of Delhi Police and Rapid Action Force waited anxiously.
On Thursday, as the farmers continued to break police barricades, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar entered into a war of words with his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh. Both leaders posted a series of tweets against each other, with Amarinder asking Khattar not to use force on the farmers, and the Haryana CM accusing him of instigating the protesters. Non-BJP leaders in both Haryana and Punjab have extended their support to the agitating farmers. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said peaceful protest was their “constitutional right”, and criticised Haryana and the Centre for using force on them. As the farmers reach Delhi on Friday, the largest numbers are expected to try to enter the capital at the Kundli border.
Why are Punjab's farmers marching to Delhi despite state passing own farm Bills?
The three Bills passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha underscore that agriculture, agricultural markets, and land is the primary legislative domain of the state. Seeking to address one of the main grievances of the protesting farmers, the Bills, among other things, make minimum support price (MSP) a legal provision.
Farmers say they are happy with the state passing the three Bills, but point out that the proposed state legislations are at best a symbolic political statement against the Centre's farm laws and may remain entangled in legal complications. The Bills can become law only if they get Presidential assent, which they say, is highly unlikely.
Farmers at Shambhu Barrier in Ambala. (Photo by A. Aggarwal)
“We are protesting because the central laws have legal value. The state's Bills do not have the same legal validity. We will not sit till the time the anti-farmer laws are not revoked or a Bill related to MSP is not passed by the Centre. Agriculture is a state subject and Centre could not create confusion by passing laws on subjects in state list,” says Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Dakuanda). He says that now the fight is not only for the farmers of Punjab but for the farmers of the entire country and that is why we are protesting “despite state passing its own Bills”.