New Delhi: As the farmer protests against three farm laws passed by the Parliament of India this year in September, continue in outskirts of Delhi, over 1,500 vehicles, including 1,300 tractor-trolleys, from nearly 1,000 villages of Punjab, are expected to reach the Delhi border over the weekend to join the protest.
According to the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee (KMSC) which launched the first major protest in the state against the GoI’s farm laws with the rail blockade from September-end, the convoy, in multiple groups, will replace the first batch of protesters that reached the border along Kundli on 100 tractor-trollers two weeks ago, Indian Express reported.
“There is a huge gathering already at Delhi’s borders, but we will find a way. If we don’t get space, we will stop wherever we can. Besides, we already have a stage at Kundli. We will replace those already there, who will return home,” the report quoted Satnam Singh Pannu, president, KMSC as saying.
Earlier, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar reiterated the “commitment” of the GoI and said it has not yet received any proposal from the agitating farmers. The farmers, on the other hand, said the GoI should inform the farmers when they want to meet.
On Friday midnight, farmers overpowered the toll-plazas of Karnal and Panipat on Delhi-Chandigarh National highway, allowing toll-free movement. Today, the workers of Bharatiya Kisan Union will make all highways leading to Delhi free of toll, Hindustan Times reported.
Meanwhile, reports said that police in Faridabad is deploying as many as 3,500 police personnel at the toll plazas at five Delhi-Haryana border points, including Badarpur Border, Gurugram Faridabad, Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal, Pali Crusher Zone and Dhauj. Besides the huge deployment, there will be drone surveillance too.
Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since the month of September when the parliament of India passed three farm laws. From last many weeks, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.
After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers have decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they are coming to Delhi.
In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to convince farmers, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.
Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.
Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.
Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.
As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.
Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.
They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP. Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.
Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.