Farmers’ Protest on 26 May Despite Curbs; 12 Parties Show Support
26 May, the day of the countrywide protest, will mark six months of the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s borders.
Amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers’ bodies protesting against the Centre’s three contentious laws have given a call for nationwide protests on 26 May to mark six months of the agitation, a move that has also been supported by 12 Opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena.
Protesting farmers will observe 26 May as ‘Black Day’ as declared by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) while the Bharatiya Kisan Union(BKU) has given a call for more farmers to join the protests at the Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi.
While the Congress has officially extended support to the protest, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has urged the BKU to call off the march to Delhi as the event could become a super-spreader event and could negate the state’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.
What Does the Statement Say
The statement signed by Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and Chief Ministers Uddhav Thackeray, MK Stalin and Mamata Banerjee, among others, said that the leaders have extended their support to the call given by SKM to observe a countrywide protest on 26 May ‘marking the completion of six months of the heroic peaceful Kisan struggle (sic)’.
In the statement, the group of Opposition leaders also referred to their letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 May, expressing their position vis-a-vis the farm bill, in which they had demanded the immediate repeal of farm laws.
“Repeal farm laws to protect lakhs of our annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people,” the letter had stated.
The statement also added that the Centre “must stop being obdurate and immediately resume talks with the SKM on these lines”.
Farmers Head to Delhi Borders Amid COVID Surge
Scores of farmers from Haryana and Punjab have left for Delhi borders to observe the ‘Black Day’ on 26 May. The farmers are marching despite the lockdown in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.
According to NDTV, the march to the Singhu border is being led by Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Gurnam Singh Charuni.
Commenting on the protest being organised despite the restrictions, Charuni told NDTV: “The government is blaming the farmers only to hide its own ineptitude. It has no ambulance, bed, or hospital. We have our own compulsions. But why is the government organising programmes where crowds gather?”
Farmers have reportedly left Haryana’s Karnal and Punjab’s Sangur to join the protesters at the Singhu and Tikri borders.
“On 26 May, we will complete six months of this protest. The day will also mark seven years since PM Modi formed the government. We will observe it as Black Day,” farm leader Balbir Singh Rajewal told The Indian Express while urging people to raise black flags at their homes and shops.
May Become Super-spreader: Amarinder Singh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged the BKU to not go ahead with the protest, which could turn into a “super-spreader event of COVID”, adding that the state government had fought hard to prevent Punjab from going the way some other states had in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases.
According to IANS, Amarinder Singh urged the farmers' group to not “jeopardise the lives of their own people with such reckless behaviour” amid the pandemic, adding that any violation of the ban would be highly detrimental to the interests of Punjab and its people.
Such a 'dharna' would draw people mainly from the villages, which were in any case going through a crisis during the second wave of the pandemic, he pointed out.
“It is time for the farmers now to reciprocate by supporting the state in the fight against the pandemic,” he said, as quoted by IANS.
(With inputs from IAN, NDTV, and The Indian Express.)
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