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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Farmers’ protest Day 26: Farmers observe relay hunger strike; special Kerala Assembly session on Dec 23

Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday said if the Centre starts withdrawing laws passed in Parliament bowing to protests, then parliamentary democracy and the Constitution "would be in danger".

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | December 21, 2020 9:32:40 pm
[youtube]Farmers sit in protest against the new Farm laws at Gazipur Border, in New Delhi. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

As the farmers’ stir at Delhi borders entered its 26th day, a farmer from Tarn Taran district of Punjab Monday allegedly tried to kill himself at the Singhu border. According to sources, the 65-year-old farmer was first admitted to Sonipat’s civil hospital, but was later referred to Rohtak’s Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences. He also wrote a note in support of the protesting farmers.

The farmers observed a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all protest sites against the Centre’s new agriculture laws. The farmers also plan to halt toll collection on highways in Haryana from December 25 to 27.  Farmer leaders on Monday said they are ready for dialogue as long as the government is offering a “concrete solution”, but claimed that there is nothing new in the Centre’s latest letter to them seeking a date for the next round of talks.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said that the government, in its letter, mentioned that it wants to hold talks over its earlier proposal of amendments in the new agri laws. “On this issue (government’s proposal), we did not talk to them earlier. We are currently discussing how to respond to the government letter,” Tikait told PTI.

In other news, a Facebook page, which was set up by farmer organisations’ “IT Cell” to “counter misinformation”, was taken down by Facebook on Sunday for a few hours. According to a statement issued by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, at 7 pm, a Facebook live was being streamed from the page where they were talking about how they had reached 94 lakh people through the page. “The page was unpublished at 7 pm. We had started a live (streaming), telling people that Kisan Ekta Morcha’s Facebook reach was 94 lakh and the page was unpublished. We will address a proper press conference tomorrow with all farm leaders… the page was (later) republished,” the statement said.

Here are the highlights of the farmers’ stir on Day 26 of the protests: 

Protesting farmer attempts to kill self near Delhi border

A farmer from Tarn Taran district of Punjab Monday allegedly tried to kill himself at the Singhu border area of Delhi.

A police spokesperson said that the farmer is currently under treatment and the matter is being probed. The incident comes days after a Sikh preacher, Baba Ram Singh, died by suicide in the same area. So far, 41 farmers have died in Punjab as well as Delhi since September 15, when protests against the farm laws intensified in Punjab and Haryana. Of these, 30 were from Malwa belt alone, six from Doaba belt, two from Majha belt and three from Haryana.

There are no exact lists of persons who died in the Delhi morcha or on the way to Delhi. It is stated that more than 26 out of these died after November 26 in Delhi or on the way to or while coming back from Delhi. Among these victims were two women: Tej Kaur, 80, who died at Budhlada as she accidentally fell on railway tracks on October 8, and Gurmail Kaur, who died of a heart attack during a protest at Bathinda.

One of the protesting farmers takes shelter in a makeshift tent on a trolley on Delhi-UP border on Sunday. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

Need law to punish those buying crops below MSP: BKU (Lok Shakti)

A Bharatiya Kisan Union faction on Monday demanded a new law for punishing those who buy farmers’ crops at rates below the minimum support price. The BKU (Lok Shakti) raised the new demand over and above the farmers’ existing demand to repeal the three recent farm laws of the Centre.

The BKU (Lok Shakti) activists are presently camping at the Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida, while those of the BKU (Bhanu) are on an indefinite sit-in at Delhi-Noida’s Chilla border since the first week of December.

The protestors include farmers from various districts of western Uttar Pradesh like Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, and Firozabad.

With the two groups of BKU factions holding protests at the Noida-Delhi Link Road, traffic movement on this key road has remained obstructed.

Several protesting farmers queue up at Singhu border to register for blood donation camp

Several protesting farmers queued up at the Singhu border on Monday to register their names for a blood donation camp set up by a Ludhiana-based NGO. More than 240 protesting farmers have so far donated blood at the camp, which began on Sunday and has been set up by Rehras Sewa Society.

A four-member team of the NGO, along with nine members of the blood bank, started their camp here at the Singhu border on Sunday around 10.30 am and by 5 pm, 190 farmers had donated blood.

Sukhminder Singh, president of Rehras Sewa Society, said, “On the first day of our camp, we got a very good response from people here. Around 190 people donated blood, which was overwhelming. So, we decided to extend our camp.”

When asked what prompted them to start the camp here, Singh said Ludhiana has over 18 blood banks but ever since lockdown was implemented, no blood donation camps could be organised.

Citing an acute shortage of blood in many banks, he said people from across Punjab come to Ludhiana to avail medical facilities.

“Our volunteers who had earlier visited the Singhu border to offer ‘sewa’ realised that people here are polite and generous. They come forward as one to extend help. So, we thought of setting up a camp here so that people in Ludhiana who are in need of blood in times of emergencies could avail the facility,” Singh added.

Scrapping laws after protests will hurt democracy: Athawale

Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday said if the Centre starts withdrawing laws passed in Parliament bowing to protests, then parliamentary democracy and the Constitution “would be in danger”.

To a question on the ongoing farmers’ protests, Athawale said their demand is “illegitimate”.

“The law has been passed by majority in Parliament. If such laws are withdrawn because there are protests against it,
then it would be a precedent for every law passed on the floor of the House, which will put the Constitution and
parliamentary democracy in danger,” he said. Athawale said farmers should accept the compromise formula suggested by the central government.

Protesting farmers listen to a speech as they camp on a highway at the Delhi- Uttar Pradesh border. (AP)

Special Kerala Assembly session on Dec 23 for a resolution against farm laws

A special session of the Kerala Assembly is being convened on Wednesday to discuss the three contentious central farm laws and pass a resolution against them.

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in a tweet said Kerala was in “total solidarity” with the farmers’ struggle and the session would discuss and ‘reject’ the laws.

The decision to convene the special session on the laws was taken by the CPI-M led LDF government at a Cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, PTI reported.

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