Updated: February 4, 2021 8:01:18 pm
A delegation of 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, led by Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, was on Thursday stopped by the police from reaching the Ghazipur border to meet the farmers protesting against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
Security has been tightened at the Ghazipur, Singhu, and Tikri borders, where thousands of farmers have been camping since December, after the violence and vandalism on January 26 during a farmers’ tractor rally. Concertina wires have been used to cover vast stretches, and at Tikri and Ghazipur, police have also put metal spikes on the roads leading to the protest sites.
According to Badal, the Opposition leaders were not allowed to cross the barricades and reach the protest site. “Saw first hand the conditions created at Ghazipur border. Shocked to see the treatment being meted out to the annadaata. Farmers are barricaded behind fortress-like concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing. Even ambulances and fire brigades cannot enter the protest site,” Badal said in a tweet.
Today 15 MPs representing different political parties from Kashmir to Kanyakumari went to #GhazipurBorder to express solidarity with farmers & demand imm repeal of the 3 hated #FarmLaws. We also demand an end to atrocities being meted out to peacefully agitating farmers. pic.twitter.com/bvilkFFiLM
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) February 4, 2021
Badal, a former Union minister in the Modi cabinet who resigned in protest against the three farm laws, said the Opposition leaders were forced to walk 3 km to the protest site. “We are here so that we can discuss this issue in Parliament. The Speaker is not letting us raise the issue. Now all the parties will give details of what is happening here,” she said.
Supriya Sule from NCP, Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva from the DMK, Saugata Roy from the TMC were also part of the delegation. Members of the National Conference, RSP and the IUML were also part of it.
“In our culture, it is called ‘Annadata Sukhi Bhav’. The farmer is our breadwinner. We all feel that for him to be happy, the central government must take a step forward and listen to his grievances and come up with a satisfactory solution,” NCP’s Sule said.
“Struggling farmers are denied basic rights, including drinking water and internet service. The government treats them like enemies,” DMK leader Kanimozhi said before going to the border.
A delegation of opp leaders including VCK leader and MP Thirumavalavan, MP Kanimozhi reached Ghazipur to meet the farmers. They were stopped at the border by the police. MP Su. Venkatesan condemned the police actions and asks the government to withdraw farm laws. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/OwfEXPg3Sq
— Janardhan Koushik (@koushiktweets) February 4, 2021
The Budget Session of the Parliament has seen strong protests from the Opposition benches. They have been demanding the government to withdraw the three contentious farm laws without making it a “prestige issue”.
However, the government has maintained that they are open to talks with the farmers and they would seek an amicable solution through dialogue.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at different borders of Delhi demanding a complete repeal of the three laws, stating that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations. The government, however, believes that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.
The three laws that farmers want to be repealed are — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Metal spikes not removed but ‘repositioned’: Delhi Police
The Delhi Police on Thursday sclarified that the iron nails embedded on the roads at Ghazipur border to restrict the movement of farmers are being “repositioned” and not removed, PTI quoted a senior police officer as saying.
The statement comes after videos and photos of workers removing the nails near Ghazipur border surfaced on social media.
“Videos and photos are getting circulated in which it is shown that nails are being taken off at Ghazipur. These are just being repositioned. Security arrangement at the border remains the same,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Deepak Yadav said.
Opposition parties assailed the government over its handling of the farmer protests against the three contentious farm laws, saying BJP ministers believe in monologue and trenches have been dug, barbed wires put up and spikes installed when bridges should have been built to win over farmers.
Sanjay Singh, who was among three AAP leaders marshalled out of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday over unruly behaviour, today hit out at the central government saying farmers are being lathi-charged, called traitors, terrorists and Khalistanis.
“Talks happened 11 times, all failed. Government claims to be a call away, but doesn’t bother,” he said in the Rajya Sabha. Stating that about 165 farmers have lost their lives in the past 76 days, Singh appealed to the Modi government to “have mercy and repeal the three black laws”.
Expressing his solidarity with the protesting farmers, Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien accused the central government of failing India at many levels while asserting that the Centre “failed to uphold Parliament’s sanctity because of its arrogance”. He also
Former Prime Minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda called farmers the backbone of the country and said miscreants and anti-social elements were behind the events of Republic Day and all political parties have condemned their actions and agree that they need to be punished.
The Cyber Cell of Delhi Police Thursday registered an FIR based on a tweet by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg where she had supported the ongoing farmers’ agitation in India. Shortly after the FIR was registered, Thunberg tweeted, “I still stand with farmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that.”
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 4, 2021
The police registered cases against some social media accounts on charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition, among others for spreading ‘fake news’. “Delhi Police has taken cognizance of a ‘Toolkit Document’ found on a social media platform that predates and indicates a copycat execution of a conspiracy behind the 26 January violence. The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India,” the police in a statement.
“A criminal case against the creators of the ‘Toolkit document’ has been registered and investigation has been taken up,” it added.
The police said the initial probe reveals that the ‘toolkit’ appears to have been created by a pro-Khalistani organisation.
Govt should not brand farmer protest political conspiracy: Priyanka
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Thursday said the government should repeal the new agri laws, instead of branding farmers “terrorists” and their agitation a “political conspiracy”.
The Congress general secretary also met family members of a man who died during the January 26 protests in Delhi. “If there is any bigger wrong other than the three farm laws, which the government should take back but is not doing so, it is that martyrs are branded as terrorists and the farmers’ agitation is seen as a political conspiracy,” the Congress general secretary said.
“Names are given to those who raise their voice. But it is never said come and tell us about the pain in your heart as you are our countrymen,” she said.
“This is not the moment for political talk but we cannot tolerate such ‘julm’. The fact is that this is not a political agitation but an actual agitation of farmers and every countryman,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
“I have come here to tell this family that you are not alone. Every single countryman is with you, be it of any religion, and farmers of every corner of the country are with you and we are with you,” she added.
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