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Monday, October 18, 2021

One year of farm laws: A timeline of how farmers’ protest unfolded

The farmers fear the three laws will lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops, and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 16, 2021 4:44:10 pm
Farmers in protest against the new Farm Bill at Singhu Border on February 09, 2021. (Express photo/Abhinav Saha)

September 17 marks one year of enactment of the three contentious agriculture laws. The three laws are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The farmers fear the laws will lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops, and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

The protests began on November 25 last year, when thousands of farmers — mainly from Punjab and Haryana — marched towards the national capital demanding a complete repeal of the legislations, as part of a “Dilli Chalo” campaign.

A timeline of the farmers’ protest: How it unfolded 

June 5, 2020: The Indian government promulgates three Farm Bills: The Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. These three Bills push the agricultural sector in India from a Government-run to a private-run sector.

September 14, 2020: Ordinance is brought to Parliament.

September 17, 2020: Ordinance is passed in Lok Sabha.

September 20, 2020: Ordinance is passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote.

September 24, 2020: Farmers in Punjab announce a three-day rail roko

Farmers sit in protest against the new Farm Bill, in winter at Tikri Border (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

September 25, 2020: Farmers across India take to the streets in response to a call by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

September 27, 2020: Farm Bills are given presidential assent and notified in the Gazette of India and become Farm Laws.

November 25, 2020: After sporadic protests against the new farm laws, including a nationwide road blockade on November 3, farmers’ unions in Punjab and Haryana gave the call for a ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement. The Delhi Police, however, rejected their request to march to the capital city citing Covid-19 protocols.

November 26, 2020: Farmers marching towards Delhi faced water cannons, tear gas as the police tried to disperse them at Haryana’s Ambala district. Later, police allowed them to enter Delhi for their peaceful protest at Nirankari ground in North-West Delhi.

November 28, 2020: Home Minister Amit Shah offered to hold talks with farmers as soon as they vacate Delhi borders and move to the designated protest site in Burari. However, farmers rejected his offer, demanding to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar.

Farmers gathered at Ghazipur border for a Kisan mahapanchayat. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

November 29, 2020: In his Mann Ki Baat programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all political parties had been making promises to the farmers but it was his government that fulfilled their promises.

December 3, 2020: The government held first round of talks with representatives of farmers but the meeting remained inconclusive.

December 5, 2020: The second round of talks between farmers and the Centre also remained inconclusive.


December 8, 2020: Farmers gave a call for Bharat Bandh. Farmers from other states also gave their support to the call.

December 9, 2020: Farmer leaders rejected the Union government’s proposal to amend the three contentious laws and vowed to further intensify their agitation until the laws are repealed.

December 11, 2020: Bharatiya Kisan Union moved the Supreme Court against the three farm laws.

December 13, 2020: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged hand of ‘tukde tukde’ gang in farmer protests and said the government was open to talks with farmers.

Protesting farmers at the Singh border in New Delhi. (Express File/Amit Mehra)

December 16, 2020: The Supreme Court said it may constitute a panel having representatives of the government and farmer unions to end the deadlock over the controversial agriculture laws.

December 21, 2020: Farmers held a one-day hunger strike at all protest sites.

December 30, 2020: Sixth round of talks between government and farmer leaders saw some headway as the Centre agreed to exempt farmers from stubble burning penalty and drop changes in Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020.

January 4, 2021: Seventh round of talks between government and farmer leaders also remained inconclusive with the Centre not agreeing to repeal the farm laws.

January 7, 2021: The Supreme Court agreed to hear petitions challenging the new laws and those against the protests on January 11. This comes even as Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that talks between farmers and the Centre “may just work”.

January 11, 2021: The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for its handling of the farmers’ protest. The top court said it would constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the deadlock.

January 12, 2021: The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and set up a four-member committee to make recommendations on the legislations after listening to all stakeholders.

Farm bills, farmers protest, singhu border, farmers violence, farmers news, indian express news Protestors at Singhu Border. (File)

On the same day, Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested by Sonipat police on charges of attempt to murder, rioting, and assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty under the Indian Penal Code, among others. According to the police, Nodeep and her associated attacked a team of police officials that had done to Kundli Industrial area after it heard about the alleged manhandling of management and staff at an industrial unit.

Kaur, a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, claimed she was “targeted and falsely implicated” in the case as she was successful in generating massive support for the ongoing farmer movement against the Centre’s three new farm laws.

January 26, 2021: On Republic day, thousands of protestors clashed with the police during the tractor parade called by farmer unions on January 26, demanding a repeal of the laws.

After several protestors from Singhu and Ghazipur changed their route, they marched towards Central Delhi’s ITO and Red Fort, where police resorted to teargas shelling and lathi charge while some farmers vandalised public property and attacked police personnel. At Red Fort, a section of protesters climbed poles and walls and hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag. One protester died in the chaos.

farmers protest, Deep Sidhu, who is Deep Sidhu, farmers protest violence, delhi farmers protest, BJP farmers protest, red fort farmers protest, India news, indian express Protesters hosting flag at Red Fort in New Delhi (Express Photo/Praveen Khanna)

January 28, 2021: Tensions rose at Delhi’s Ghazipur border after the administration in neighbouring UP’s Ghaziabad district issued orders for protesting farmers to vacate the site by night. By evening, as police in anti-riot gear started spreading out at the site, the protesters camped there and their leaders, including BKU’s Rakesh Tikait, said they would not leave.

February 4, 2021: The government slammed “celebrities and others” for their comments in support of farmer protests, calling them “neither accurate nor responsible”. This came after pop icon Rihanna, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and lawyer-author Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, spoke out on the farmer protests.

February 5, 2021: The cyber-crime cell of the Delhi Police has registered an FIR on charges of “sedition”, “criminal conspiracy” and “promoting hatred” against the creators of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, which was shared by Thunberg. The 18-year-old deleted the original tweet on Wednesday but tweeted a revised toolkit on Wednesday night.

February 6, 2021: Protesting farmers held a nationwide ‘Chakka Jam’, or road blockade, for three hours from 12 noon to 3 pm. While several roads across Punjab and Haryana were blocked during that time, elsewhere the ‘chakka jam’ protest evoked a scattered response.

February 9, 2021: Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sindhu, named an accused in the Republic Day violence case, was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on Tuesday morning. He was sent to 7-day police custody later in the evening.

Women farmers turned up in strength at Delhi’s Tikri border to mark International Women’s Day. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

February 14, 2021: The Delhi Police’ arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi for allegedly “editing” the toolkit shared by Thunberg.

February 18, 2021: Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmer unions spearheading the agitations last week, called for a nationwide ‘rail roko’ protest. Trains were stopped, cancelled and rerouted in places around the country. However, a spokesperson for the national transporter said there was negligible or minimal impact on railway services due to the ‘rail roko’ agitation. He said majority of the zonal railways reported no incident due to the protest.

February 23, 2021: 22-year-old activist Disha Ravi was granted bail by a sessions court in Delhi.

February 25, 2021: Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was released from prison after she was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Kaur’s bail plea came up for hearing before the bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan.

February 26, 2021: Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur was released from prison on Friday after she was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A woman farmer watching news on mobile phone at Ghazipur border on Feb 8, 2021 (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

March 02, 2021: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and other party leaders were detained by the Chandigarh Police from Sector 25 as they tried to march towards the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to gherao it on Monday afternoon.

March 05, 2021: The Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution asking for the unconditional withdrawal of the farm laws in the interest of the farmers and Punjab, and to continue with the existing system of MSP-based government procurement of foodgrains.

March 06, 2021: Farmers complete 100 days at Delhi’s borders.

March 8, 2021: Gunshots are fired near the Singhu border protest site. Nobody is injured.

April 4, 2021: Few tractor trolleys from the Singhu border return to Punjab ahead of the harvesting season. Farmers set up sheds made of bamboo and shade net

delhi farmers protest, singhu border protest, punjab harvest season, delhi news, farmers protest, india news, indian express Farmers making bamboo house at Ghazipur border (Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

April 15, 2021: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala writesto Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to resume talks with farmers who are protesting at Delhi’s borders, and reach an “amicable conclusion” to the impasse over the farm laws.

April 26, 2021: Deep Sidhu gets second bail.

May 27, 2021: Farmers observed a ‘black day’to mark six months of the agitation, and burned effigies of the government. Though the crowds at the three borders have thinned, farm leaders said that agitation will continue till 2024 if their demands are not met. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, during a press conference, also reiterated that farmers will call off the protest only once the three farm laws are repealed.

Kisaan Morcha Sanghan celebrating black day at Ghazipur border (Express photo/Prem Nath Pandey)

June 5, 2021: Protesting farmers observe Sampoorn Krantikari Diwas (total revolution day) to mark the first year of the promulgation of the Farm Laws.

June 26, 2021: Farmers march to Delhi to mark seven months of protest against the farm laws. Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) claimed that farmers were detained in states like Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana during the protests.

July 2021:  About 200 protesting farmers started a parallel “Monsoon Session”, Kisan Sansad, near the Parliament House here on Thursday, condemning the three farm laws. Members of Opposition parties staged protests in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue inside the House complex. They urged the Centre to withdraw the farm laws and accept the demands of farmers. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also reached Parliament on a tractor to express solidarity with protesting farmers. Parliament proceedings were adjourned repeatedly as the Opposition cornered the Centre over farm laws among other issues.

Rahul Gandhi drives a tractor to Parliament (Twitter/Manoj CG)

August 7, 2021: Leaders of 14 opposition parties met at Parliament House and decided to visit Kisan Sansad at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, where a select group of farmer leaders have been holding a Kisan Sansad (farmers’ parliament) since July 22 to mark seven months of the protests at Delhi’s border points against the laws. Gandhi and the other leaders reiterated that the three controversial laws should be withdrawn. “Today all opposition parties together decided to support the farmers and demand the withdrawal of the three farm laws,” Gandhi said. “We want to give our entire support to all the farmers of the country.”

Opposition leaders at the farmers’ protest against the farm laws at Jantar Mantar. (Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

August 28, 2021: The agitation against farm laws enacted last year returned to the spotlight when Haryana Police cracked down on farmers in Karnal, leaving several injured in a lathicharge at the Bastara toll plaza on the national highway. The farmers were protesting against a BJP meeting on the forthcoming panchayat polls — it was being chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

They showed black flags to vehicles carrying BJP leaders and even tried to block their way. But due to heavy police presence, they could not stop the vehicles and kept raising slogans. When they refused to lift the highway blockade, police used force, charging at farmers with lathis and leaving several injured – they were taken to local hospitals by fellow protesters.

Police personnel lathicharge protesters in Karnal. (Express Photo)

The farmers started the protest demanding Ayush Sinha’s suspension and registration of an FIR against him ever since the lathicharge. A 2018 batch IAS officer, he was caught on camera on August 28, instructing policemen to beat up protesting farmers and not to let anyone breach the security cordon without a “broken head”.

September 5, 2021: Challenging the BJP-led NDA with just months to go for the UP elections, farm leaders driving the movement against the Centre’s new agricultural laws staged a major show of strength in Muzaffarnagar, announcing in front of thousands of farmers their plan to campaign against the ruling party in the state.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait and other farmer leaders at the mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

September 7 – 9, 2021: Farmers reach Karnal in large numbers and laid siege to the mini-Secretariat. The farmers put forth three primary demands including Rs 25 lakh compensation to the family of Kajal and a government job for his relative, compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for those injured in the lathicharge and registration of a criminal case and stern action against Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha and police personnel responsible for the lathicharge.

September 11, 2021: Bringing to an end the five-day standoff between farmers and the Karnal district administration, the Haryana government agreed to conduct a probe by a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into the August 28 police lathicharge on farmers at the Bastara toll plaza, and send former Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha on leave till completion of the inquiry. The standoff ended following extensive talks between farmer unions led by Gurnam Singh Chadhuni and the government side led by Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh. They later held a press conference to announce the agreement.

delhi farmers protest, singhu border protest, punjab harvest season, delhi news, farmers protest, india news, indian express Farmers during their sit-in protest after their Kisan Mahapanchayat, outside the Mini Secretariat in Karnal, Haryana. (PTI)

September 15, 2021: To substantiate its allegation that the Republic Day violence by a section of farm protesters was “a deep-rooted, well-orchestrated conspiracy”, the Delhi Police has cited a “rise” in sale of tractors in Punjab and Haryana between November 2020 and January 2021. The “sale of tractors rises to a considerable extent rapidly in a well-orchestrated conspiracy and with the sole object…to take tractors to Delhi for agitation and protest,” says the chargesheet.

However, data from the Tractor and Mechanisation Association (TMA), whose figures the Delhi Police has cited, also show a similar high year-on-year sales growth trend across India — at 51.25 per cent in November, 43.09 per cent in December and 46.75 per cent in January.

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