Thousands of farmers marching towards the national capital to protest against a number of issues faced severe police action at the Delhi-UP border on Tuesday. The police resorted to water cannons and tear-gas shells to disperse the farmer units, something which drew sharp criticism from the Opposition parties.
The farmers, belonging to Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), had begun their protest ‘Kisan Kranti March’ in Hardwar on September 23 and had planned to culminate the yatra at Kisan Ghat in Delhi on Gandhi Jayanti. Their major demands included implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report, removing ban on the usage of tractors above 10 years, clearance of pending payments of sugarcane purchase, increased price of sugar supplied and minimum support prices. They also demanded unconditional loan waiver, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh met Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and few others and discussed the demands of the protesters. On their cue, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat met the protesters to assure them that their demands will be looked into.
However, the protesters remained unsatisfied with the government’s assurance. “We will discuss this and then decide on future course of action. I can’t decide anything alone, our committee will take the decision,” Naresh Tikait, chief of BKU, said.
Quoting senior police officials, PTI reported that nearly 2,500 personnel from Delhi Police, besides paramilitary forces, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF), were deployed to prevent the protesters from entering the city. Police also claimed that farmers, riding tractors and trolleys, broke barricades put up by the police and some even tried to jump the barricade. Some protesters also alleged lathi-charge by police.
Reacting sharply to the incident, Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of “brutal beating up” of farmers on Gandhi Jayanti. “On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s two-year Gandhi Jayanti celebrations began with the brutal beating of farmers peacefully coming to Delhi. Now, the farmers cannot even air the grievances coming to the capital!” he tweeted in Hindi.
विश्व अहिंसा दिवस पर BJP का दो-वर्षीय गांधी जयंती समारोह शांतिपूर्वक दिल्ली आ रहे किसानों की बर्बर पिटाई से शुरू हुआ।
अब किसान देश की राजधानी आकर अपना दर्द भी नहीं सुना सकते! #KisanKrantiYatra
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 2, 2018
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that “arrogance has gone to his head”. “Instead of hearing them out, farmers are brutalised and beaten up. The Baadshah in the Delhi Sultanate is drunk with power,” he alleged.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “We strongly condemn this action and atrocities on farmers. This once again demonstrates the anti-farmer attitude of the Modi government.
“Modi government has backtracked on all its promises made to farmers. This anger and protest is not bothering the Modi government,” he said.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav also extended his party’s support to the protesting farmers. “On the birth anniversaries of the propagator of peace Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri, who gave the slogan jai jawan jai kisan (hail the soldier, hail the farmer), the police lathi-charge on protesting farmers indicates the BJP’s distorted character. People of the country are agitated by the derogatory behaviour of BJP towards the farmers,” he tweeted in Hindi.
आज अहिंसा के पुजारी गांधी जी व ‘जय जवान, जय किसान’ के उद्घोषक शास्त्री जी की जयंती के अवसर पर किसानों पर लाठी चार्ज ‘भाजपाई हिंसा’ का विकृतम रूप है. अहंकारी भाजपा सरकार ने अन्नदाताओं के साथ जो अपमानजनक व्यवहार किया है, उससे पूरे देश में भाजपा के ख़िलाफ रोष व आक्रोश फैल गया है.
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) October 2, 2018
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that preventing a protest march of farmers from entering the national capital was “wrong” and pitched for allowing them entry into the city.
“Why are the farmers being stopped from entering Delhi. It is wrong. Delhi belongs to all. They should be given entry in Delhi. We support their demands,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event held at the Delhi assembly to mark Gandhi Jayanti.
दिल्ली सबकी है। किसानों को दिल्ली में आने से नहीं रोका जा सकता। किसानों की माँगे जायज़ हैं। उनकी माँगें मानी जायें।
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 2, 2018
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati too condemned the lathi charge at the agitating farmers. “This is the height of the BJP government’s anarchy and it shall remain prepared to bear its consequences.”
“The BJP, which came to power promising to bring the good days of the farmers’ by doubling their income, has targeted them with tear-gas shells, lathis when they only wanted to march to the Gandhi sthal on Gandhi Jayanti and hold protest demonstration over their problems” the Dalit leader said.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav accused the government of betraying the farmers by discarding the Swaminathan committee report. “Modi ji, though farmers, unlike capitalists, cannot fill your pockets, but at least don’t get them beaten up. If you would have seen poverty, you would not have committed so many atrocities on farmers,” he tweeted in Hindi.
मोदी सरकार ने भी स्वामीनाथन आयोग की रिपोर्ट को कूड़े में फेंक किसानों की पीठ में छुरा घोंपा है।
मोदी जी,माना किसान पूँजीपतियों की तरह आपकी जेबें नहीं भर सकते लेकिन कम से कम उनके सिर पर डंडे तो मत मरवाइए।
अगर आपने ग़रीबी देखी होती तो किसानों पर इतने ज़ुल्म नहीं करते।#KisanKranti
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) October 2, 2018
National Highways leading to the national capital were blocked, prompting the UP police to impose prohibitory orders on the congregation of any assembly. Yesterday, prohibitory orders were issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Pankaj Singh under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, will be in force until October 8.
(With inputs from PTI)
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