Amid tight security on Thursday, 26 November, over two lakh farmers and members of trade unions from Punjab, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have called for "Delhi Chalo" – a two-day march to protest against the three contentious farm laws passed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre in September.
Permissions to hold the protests were denied by the Centre, citing concerns over COVID-19, putting both protesters and policemen at risk. However, there was tightening of security at borders and Section 144 of CrPc was imposed in anticipation of protests.
Upon commencement of the protest, the police resorted to using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group gathered at the border.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh, Yogendra Yadav, and others have taken to twitter to criticise the harsh treatment of farmers, especially in the cold weather. Kejriwal and other leaders also pointed out that it was ironic to curb dissent on Constitution Day.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated that holding peaceful demonstrations is a constitutional right.
"Instead of withdrawing the farm bills (now laws), farmers are being prevented from holding peaceful demonstration, water cannon being used on them. Holding peaceful demonstration is a constitutional right," tweeted Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Kejriwal’s party AAP tweeted that the BJP has been blinded by capitalism and is unable to see the plight of farmers. They also said, “When the farmers are coming to Delhi to express their pain, the BJP government is resorting to tear gas and water splashes to suppress the voice of the farmers.”
In another tweet, the party accused the BJP saying, “The arrogant BJP government, steeped in the love of the bourgeoisie, continues to persecute those farmers who starve themselves and feed the entire nation.”
Rahul Gandhi said that the country’s farmers have stood firmly in dissent “against the brutality of the Modi government.”
"Instead of listening to the voice of the farmers who are protesting against the laws, that snatched the support price from them, the BJP government uses water cannon to disperse them in cold weather. Everything is being taken away from the farmers while the capitalists are being given banks, airport, railway stations and loan waiver," tweeted Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday.
Taking a jibe at the BJP for attacking protesters on Constitution Day, Congress tweeted a video of the Constitution and the power of democracy.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh questioned the Haryana government for resorting to force and asked “don’t farmers have the right to pass peacefully through public highway.” The Punjab CM also said that it’s a “sad irony” that on Constitution Day, the constitutional right of farmers is being oppressed in this manner.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) also tweeted against the police aggression on farmers through tear gas and water cannons and condemned it.
Health Minister of Chhattisgarh, TS Singh Deo, has also criticised the BJP government and the draconian farm laws.
Political activist and Swaraj India National President Yogendra Yadav was detained on his way to Delhi. He posted on Twitter that what was happening today was unconstitutional and democracy will prevail."
Youth For Swaraj, in a sarcastic attack on the Haryana government, tweeted saying, “Welcome to Haryana! Here you are greeted with lathis and showered with water cannons. In order to make the farmers’ journey comfortable, the Haryana Police is going to arrest you and put you behind bars.”
Lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan tweeted saying, “On Constitution day, when farmers are battered for merely coming to Delhi to protest, when peaceful protesters against unconstitutional CAA are being jailed, when SC is not coming to rescue those whose fundamental rights are trampled, we need to stand up to reclaim our Republic.”
In another tweet, he said that large political rallies were allowed, but the farmers were not allowed to protest. He alleged that the prevention of the protest using COVID-19 is just an excuse by the BJP government.