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Farmers Dig In, Students Join

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After two days of clashes with security personnel, water cannons and stone-pelting, farmers continued their protest against the contentious farm laws for the third consecutive day on the borders of Delhi-NCR. On Saturday, thousands of farmers continued to protest the Centre’s new agricultural laws at the Singhu and Tikri borders, blocking national highways even as they refused to move to the designated protest site in north Delhi. Hundreds gathered at the city’s Burari grounds, PTI reported. This comes a day after they clashed with security personnel who stopped them from entering the city.

To check on any untoward incident, the police used drones to keep a tight vigil on the protest site where 600 farmers had gathered after entering the national capital.

FARMERS REFUSE TO BUDGE, MORE JOIN STIR

The farmers came prepared for a long haul, their vehicles loaded with rations, utensils, quilts and blankets for the cold and equipped with even charging points for their phones. As heavy security has been deployed at the Singhu border, a farmer at the approved Nirankari protest site said they are in the city for the long haul, and not just for the matter of a few days. A farmer said, “Our protest will continue till the Farm laws are not withdrawn. We are here for the long haul.” “We will not return till the Centre scraps the new farm laws,” another protesting farmer said.

As thousands joined the protest at the Singhu border, the protesting farmers refused to move towards the Sant Nirankari Ground in Burari that was offered to them for peaceful protests. Moreover, news agency PTI quoted a farmer leader as saying that they would continue their protest at the border and will not move to the Burari Ground — a site identified by the Delhi Police for holding demonstrations.

“We will not move from here (Singhu border) and continue our fight. We will not return home. Thousands of farmers have come from Punjab and Haryana to join the protest,” the farmer said. “We will not go to the new protest site, and we will continue our protest at the national highway,” another farmer was quoted as saying.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of the largest farmer organisations in Punjab, agreed that they would not go to Burari. The faction’s leaders claimed that over one lakh farmers, including elderly women, were marching towards the national capital in tractor-trailers, buses and other vehicles.

Farmers from Punjab got support from their Uttar Pradesh counterparts when some groups from Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Ghaziabad gathered at the Ghazipur border and breached the first layer of barricades put up by the Delhi Police. They, however, later decided to move back a few metres and stay put there. Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, over 500 farmers staged a sit-in at the Jhansi-Mirzapur National Highway in Kulpahad to demand the rollback of the three laws.

CRUCIAL MEETING TOMORROW

Protesters at the Singhu border held a meeting and decided to stay put on Saturday night. Settling down for another night on the road, some protesters said that they would wait for the outcome of a crucial meeting on Sunday to decide the next course of action.

“We held a meeting today and it was decided to stay put here. Tomorrow, there will be another meeting at 11 am and till then, we are at the Singhu border,” Baljeet Singh Mahal, Jalandhar’s unit president of Bhartiya Kisan Union Kadia, was quoted by PTI as saying.

DISCUSSION WITH FARMERS ON DEC 3, SAYS AMIT SHAH

As Delhi witnessed an intensified demonstration by farmers, many roads and entry points were blocked in the national capital. Taking note of the situation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to the protesting farmers to shift to the Burari ground and said that the Centre is ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.

Amit Shah said that a delegation of the farmers has been invited for a discussion on December 3. He further said that now that some of their unions have demanded that talks be held immediately, the Centre is ready to do so as soon as the protestors shift to the ground in Burari.

Government is ready to deliberate on every problem and demand of the farmers…At many places, farmers are staying with their tractors and trollies on highways in this cold. I appeal to them that the Delhi Police are ready to shift you to big ground, please go there. You will be given police permission to hold programmes there,” Amit Shah told news agency ANI.

“If farmers’ unions want to hold discussions before December 3, then I want to assure you all that as soon as you shift your protest to structured place, the government will hold talks to address your concerns the very next day,” Amit Shah was quoted as saying.

Soon after Amit Shah’s proposal, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed his offer to hold discussions at the earliest as the best in the interest of the farming community and the nation at large. He urged the farmers to accept the appeal and shift to the designated place for their protest.

The Centre has also invited several Punjab farmer organisations for another round of talks in Delhi in December.

ML KHATTAR VS AMARINDER SINGH

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar accused some political parties and organisations of “sponsoring” the farmers’ stir against the Centre’s farm laws. Hitting out at his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh, Khattar alleged that officials in the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office are “giving directions” to the protesting farmers from Punjab. He also claimed Haryana farmers had not participated in the stir and thanked them for it.

Meanwhile, Manohar Lal Khattar claimed the farmers’ protest was backed by political parties and also claimed a Khalistani connection to the stir.

WHAT OTHER LEADERS SAID

As the situation snowballed, several Opposition parties including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party attacked PM Narendra Modi and the Centre over the farm bills and the police force against the protesting farmers. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that whoever protests against the Modi government is “deemed a terrorist”, PTI reported.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned the central government over the lathicharge on the protesting farmers who have been demonstrating against the farm laws at Delhi borders since Thursday. In a tweet, which also had a picture of a policeman raising his cane to attack a farmer, Rahul Gandhi said PM Narendra Modi’s ‘arrogance’ made jawans stand against farmers.

ADDRESS FARMERS’ ISSUES PERSONALLY: SAD TO PM

On Saturday, as the farmers’ protested continued, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally address all “genuine” issues of agitating farmers after putting aside all his other engagements. The prime minister should resolve the issues of agitating ‘annadatas’ on a “top national priority” basis, the SAD said in a statement according to PTI.

The SAD core committee, party’s highest decision-making body, also slammed the Haryana government for alleged “repression” of farmers heading to the national capital in response to the ‘Delhi Chalo’ call to protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.

“The fact is that the BJP and its governments at the Centre and in Haryana have got jittery by the success of farmers’ secular and democratic movement,” said SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

HARYANA BKU CHIEF, FARMERS BOOKED FOR ATTEMPT TO MURDER

Haryana Police has booked state Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers on attempt to murder, rioting, causing obstruction in government duty and other charges for violations during their “Delhi Chalo” march, officials said.

Also, hundreds of farmers were booked for rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, damage to public property and provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in Panipat, Rohtak, Kaithal, Sirsa and other districts.

However, the Congress claimed that over 20,000 farmers in Haryana have been booked by police for various violations during the “Delhi Chalo” march.

“EMOTIONAL CONNECTION”: STUDENT JOINS FARMERS

A number of students from different universities also joined the farmers in their protest at the Delhi-Haryana border at Singhu. They played the ‘dafli’ and singing songs about distress.

Arpan, a student from the Panjab University and a resident of Chandigarh, was quoted by PTI as saying that she has joined the farmers’ agitation as she felt an “emotional connection” with their land.

“We have come here along with farmers to support them. We have been living here with the farmers and are having food at the langars. We are also singing songs in Punjabi and Hindi to explain the condition of farmers,” she said.

TRAFFIC AFFECTED

Meanwhile, traffic was affected on key roads in Delhi as police kept the Singhu and Tikri borders closed for vehicular movement in view of the ongoing farmers’ agitation. The Delhi Traffic Police tweeted that traffic movement was not allowed from Azadpur and Outer Ring Road to the Singhu border.

In a series of tweets, Delhi Traffic Police posted, “Traffic Alert Singhu border is still closed from both sides. Please take an alternate route. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba Chowk & GTK road. Traffic is very very heavy. Please avoid outer ring road from the signature bridge to Rohini & vice versa, GTK road, NH 44 & Singhu border.”

“Traffic Alert Tikri border is closed for any Traffic Movement. Available Open Borders to Haryana are following Borders Jharoda,Dhansa ,Daurala Jhatikera,Badusari,Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8,Bijwasan/Bajghera,Palam vihar and Dundahera borders,” Delhi Traffic Police said in another tweet.

“INQUILAB ZINDABAD”, “HUM HONGE KAAMYAB” SLOGANS RAISED

Slogans such as “Dharti Mata Ki Jai”, “Narendra Modi Kisan Virodhi” and “Inquilab Zindabad” could be heard from different parts of the vast, dusty ground. As some farmer leaders gave speeches, farmers danced to drumbeats and the strains of “Hum Honge Kaamyab” could also be heard.

Amid the cheerful cacophony, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti struck up a chorus of “Chahe Kuch Bhi Karlo Hum Badhte Jaenge”.

The three farm laws are – 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).

Farmers say they are apprehensive that the laws will pave way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.

(With inputs from PTI)

Courtesy – indiatoday

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