AS PROTESTING farmers continued to camp at Delhi’s borders for the fifth day on Monday, the farmer unions emphasised that their demand for repeal of the new farm laws was “non-negotiable”.
Urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to their “mann ki baat”, they said that besides the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, farmers from states like Madhya Pradesh and Kerala were also joining their protest.
Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border, representatives of farmer unions said they would continue to block Delhi’s borders till their demand was met.
“We know that November-December is a very important period for farmers. Many of us have left our farms to come here and protest. Our demands remain the same since the first day — the laws must be taken back. This is non-negotiable. This protest is by farmers, and it is above any religion. This is becoming a bigger movement and the government needs to listen,” said Shiv Kumar, coordinator, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, who is representing farmers from Madhya Pradesh.
The farmer unions said the new laws would give “unregulated freedom to corporates”.
“This move will impact the entire agri business structure. It appears that there will be greater scope for blackmailing. We are here to protest, despite the fact that the Haryana government has slapped 31 FIRs against farmers on charges including breaking barriers. Some of the FIRs are for attempt to murder. The fact is that we will not stop,” said Gurnam Singh, Haryana state president, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
“Thirty-two years after Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait brought lakhs of farmers to the streets, we are witnessing a huge farmer movement again. They say that this protest is by middlemen. I ask you to check yourself if they are farmers or middlemen. They say farmers don’t know anything; only Modi and the Planning Commission know. The truth is that every child in the village also knows what the reality is. They say that it is only by Punjab farmers. Today, we have people from Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and many other places. Punjab has taken the lead, but it is slowly becoming a national movement,” said Swaraj India national president Yogendra Yadav.
A collective organisation of eight transport unions in Delhi-NCR region also joined the protest. They sent a letter to the farmer unions stating that they would go on a strike in two days if the government did not meet their demands.
“We will ensure that there is no auto, taxi, private cab or truck in the NCR after two days if the government doesn’t meet their demands. We are all indebted to the farmer community. Representatives of auto unions have also joined us,” said Balwant Singh Bhullar, All India Sarthi and Owner Organisation.
At the Singhu border, the day began with an ardaas in the morning, on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti. While langars have been set up since November 26, when the farmers reached the border, prasad and sweets were distributed on Monday.
In the evening, protesters lit candles as part of the celebrations. “My wife and two children are in Ludhiana. I am missing them on this festival, and I am sure they are missing me too. But I told them that I am on a mission. This is for our survival. I have asked them to have extra halwa on my behalf. I will only return home when there is a logical conclusion to this protest,” said Manjeet Singh, a farmer from Punjab.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against unknown persons for allegedly rioting, clashing with the police and violating the pandemic norms at the Singhu border on November 27. While no arrests have been made, police are going through video clips to identify the accused.
DCP (Outer-North) Gaurav Sharma said the case has been registered on the basis of the SHO’s complaint. The FIR has been registered under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 34 (common intention).