‘Ready for Battle’: Farmers Halt at Sonepat Post Day 1 of Protests
The farmers, who are carrying ration and wood, said they will hold sit-in protests whenever stopped.
A group of 200 farmers from Punjab, which had been marching and was joined by local farmers, decided to stop at Sonepat, Haryana, for the night when around 11 pm on Thursday, 26 November, it was struck with water cannons by the police forces. The group had been trying to talk to the police all evening through the barricade, requesting entry.
Around 9 pm, tensions started building up in the area as the farmers started waving flags and shouting slogans against the Centre, determined to not give up despite denial of passage.
Finally, the protesting farmers camped at Delhi’s border with Haryana at night. The farmers, who are carrying ration, wood, and vegetables for the demonstration, said they will hold sit-in protests whenever stopped. Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugarhan) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they are “ready for the battle, which may last long.”
The Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) joined in the protest in the early hours of Friday, from Khanauri border in Punjab's Sangrur district. BKU-Ugrahan President Joginder Ugrahan said, "If we are not allowed to cross Haryana and head towards Delhi, our protest destination will be the border points for a week”, reported IANS.
Meanwhile, Punjab legislators Parminder Dhindsa and Sukhpal Khera were taken into preventive custody by the Delhi Police.
Violence at Haryana Border
Earlier on Thursday, angry farmers at Shambhu border, near Ambala, threw away police barricades into the river, pelted stones, physically pushed vehicles and continued to protest as police stopped them from proceeding to Delhi. The police, meanwhile, used tear gas and water cannons on the farmers, but the latter managed to cross the border into Haryana on Thursday.
Unfazed by the security deployment and barricades, protesting farmer Gurdev Singh told IANS at the Shambhu border that "We will break all the barricades if we were not allowed to move ahead." Farmers said they were ready to face bullets also.
In Karnal, police used water cannon and tear gas on the farmers.
The police have increased the security further at Delhi-Karnal Highway as farmers intensify their protest by trying to break through barricades and move towards Delhi.
Amid tight security on Thursday, 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 three contentious farm laws passed by the Centre in September.
Haryana had sealed its borders with Punjab on Thursday, after receiving orders from CM Manohar Lal Khattar, reported NDTV. As a preventive step, the Haryana government sealed all its major entry points along the Punjab border and imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to arrest anyone assembling for the protests.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar appealed to the farmers to not to continue the agitation. Tomar further stated that the government is ready to talk about the issues and resolve differences.
“I am sure that our dialogue will have a positive result,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.
Meanwhile, at the Singhu border, the Delhi Police stationed trucks filled with sand to stop the movement of tractors driven by farmers, police told news agency PTI.
Police also said that the border has not been sealed but they are checking all vehicles entering the national capital.
The Delhi government has denied permission for any rallies, and massive security arrangements have been made at the Delhi-Haryana border.
The farmers affiliated to 33 organisations are part of the United Farmers Front, an all-India body of over 470 farmers' unions that will participate in the indefinite protest in Delhi from 26 November, reported NDTV.
Haryana CM Hits Back at Amarinder Singh
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in a reply to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amrinder said that he will leave politics if there will be any trouble on the MSP.
“...please stop inciting innocent farmers,” Khattar said in a tweet.
Amarinder Singh Questions Haryana CM Over Police Action Against Farmers
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.
He further stated that Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar should let the farmers proceed.
“Don't push them to the brink. Let them take their voice to Delhi peacefully,” Singh tweeted.
Delhi-Gurugram Border on High Alert
Amid the intense farmers’ protest, the Gurugram administration is on high alert on Thursday.
The administration fears that the farmers from villages in Gurugram might join the protests and march towards Delhi, the report added.
‘Holding Peaceful Demonstrations a Constitutional Right’: Kejriwal
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 a peaceful demonstration, water cannon being used on them,” tweeted Kejriwal in Hindi.
Curbs in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana
Delhi metro services to and from the National Capital Region (NCR) will be restricted on Thursday till 2 pm in view of the situation.
The Delhi Police tweeted earlier on Wednesday saying all the requests received from various farmer organisations have been rejected and this has already been communicated to the organisers.
"Please cooperate with Delhi Police in ensuring no gathering in Delhi amid coronavirus, failing which legal action will be initiated as per law," its tweet read. Delhi has deployed eight groups of paramilitary forces at the border, especially on Ghazipur border, Chilla border and DND, reported NDTV.
Meanwhile, Haryana has also suspended bus service to and from Punjab for the next two days and diverted all traffic from the blocked roads.
Prohibitory orders have been passed to curtail the rallies and security arrangements for barricades, water cannons and riot vehicles have been made to contain the protest. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) has claimed that over two lakh farmers associated with it will enter Haryana.
Nationwide Protests Over Contentious Farm Laws
The Wire reported that at least 100 farm union members, especially in Haryana have already been taken into ‘preventive custody’. Around 500 farmers have been arrested in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Prominent farmer leaders Rishipal Ambawata and P. Ayyakannu have also been placed under house arrest by the administration.
A convoy of farmers and anti-farm bill protestors travelling from Madhya Pradesh to Delhi, led by activist Medha Patkar, was stopped near Agra by the Uttar Pradesh authorities, after which Medha Patkar was detained, reported NDTV.
Kavitha Kuruganthi, from All India Kisan Sangharsh Committee (AIKSCC), told The Wire that farm union leaders from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are on their way in the hundreds but because lack of public transportation due to coronavirus, many protests are being mobilised locally to show support. She said in Tamil Nadu, 500 local protests will be held to block rail tracks and roads.
In Jharkhand, protestors plan to occupy the governor’s house. In Karnataka, ‘Graameen Harthal’, or village strikes will be taking place. In West Bengal also farmers’ unions will be mobilising locally, reported The Wire.
The farmers have equipped themselves to sustain a long protest and have bought ration, wood, quilts and other essentials. "We are ready for the battle, which may last long," said BKU (Ekta-Ugarhan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan to NDTV. The farmers have said do not intend to return till the matter is settled.
BKU (Ugrahan) President Joginder Ugrahan said to NDTV, "If we are not allowed to cross Haryana and head towards Delhi on Thursday, our protest destination will be the border points for a week."
What are the 3 Ordinances Which Have Sparked The Nationwide Protest?
The three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – were passed in September after President Ram Nath Kovind signed the ordinances on 27 September.
The government’s intention for passing the ordinance is to get farmers freedom in the capitalist markets, however, farmers feel they will be left to the threat of market forces without a minimum price slab and this would threaten food security, reported Scroll.
(With inputs from NDTV, Scroll, The Wire and Indian Express)
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