New Delhi: An indefinite relay hunger strike starts today against the government’s new agricultural laws as farmers harden stand amid protests that began late November around Delhi borders. After five rounds of negotiations failed, the government on Sunday asked the protesting farmers to choose a date for the next round of talks. The relay hunger strike is the third major national event staged by the farmers after a countrywide shutdown earlier this month, which was backed by opposition parties and trade unions, and last week’s hunger strike by farmer leaders. The stir has been intensifying amid repeated assurances from the government on the minimum support price or MSP; farmers say they want the laws repealed.
Here are 10 developments in this big story:
- In a letter to 40 farmer leaders, the government on Sunday said it’s making all efforts with “an open heart” to find an appropriate solution to resolve all the concerns raised by farmers. Union Agriculture Ministry Joint Secretary Vivek Aggarwal urged the representatives to provide details of their remaining concerns.
- On Sunday, the protesters gave a call to intensify the stir as numbers swell at Delhi’s borders. Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, who is one of the leaders of the protest, told reporters: “We will hold an indefinite relay hunger strike here, in which 11 people will take it in turns to fast for 24 hours each.”
- The protesters also appealed to people across the country to skip a meal on Farmers’ Day or Kisan Diwas on Wednesday “to honour the men and women who put food on your table for three meals a day”.
- Protesters on Sunday also hit out at the government and said they will “bang thalis during PM Modi’s next Mann ki Baat “. “On December 27 when the Prime Minister gives his Mann Ki Baat radio address, farmers will say ‘we are tired of listening to your Mann ki Baat, when will you listen to our Mann ki Baat?’ So we will bang utensils so that the noise of his Mann ki Baat doesn’t reach us,” Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav said.
- Prayer meets were held yesterday and emotional tributes were paid to those who’ve died at the protest sites in the last few weeks as farmers observed Shradhanjali Diwas.
- The Delhi-Meerut highway has been partially blocked amid allegations that farmers from other states are not being allowed to join protests near Delhi borders.
- Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have hit out at the government, accusing it of trying to intimidate commission agents known as Arhityas supporting the farmers’ protests. A total of 14 Arhtiyas across Punjab have received notices from the IT department, Amarinder Singh’s office said in a statement.
- One of the biggest farmers’ groups from Punjab on Sunday claimed it has been warned about foreign funding. “NRIs who have been sending us funds are those who are Punjab and are abroad. They’re just helping. What’s the problem with that?” Joginder Ugraha, the chief of BKU (Ugrahan), said.
- Facebook and Instagram accounts being used by the farmers protesting the government’s new agricultural laws were blocked on Sunday following a live broadcast, the demonstrators alleged. Facebook said they regretted the inconvenience but has not specified why the page was taken down.
- The contentious farm laws were voted in parliament in September with little debate. The Supreme Court last week said farmers protests can continue, stressing on the need to hold talks to resolve deadlock. Critics and opposition parties allege new laws will leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.
Courtesy – NDTV