Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh gathered at the borders of Delhi on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the protests against the Centre three agricultural laws.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the repeal of the three laws on November 19 and the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Bill to repeal the legislation.
However, farmers unions have said that they will continue to hold agitations at the borders of Delhi till the farm laws are revoked in Parliament.
They have also said that several other demands are pending, including a law to guarantee minimum support price for crops, withdrawing cases lodged against protestors during the agitation.
They also demanded the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra, whose son has been arrested for allegedly running over farmers in Uttar Pradesh.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha said that the farmers’ protest stands as a testimony to the will of the common people to “fight against an unrelenting government”. It added that the agitation will be remembered “as an example of peaceful satyagraha inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian freedom movement”.
The organisation noted that several students’ organisations, women’s organisations and civil society groups came together in support of the farmers.
It added that several events will be held abroad to express solidarity with the protestors. These include a “victory car rally” in New York on Saturday, and a car and truck rally in California on December 4.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha said that 72 years after the adoption of India’s Constitution, the country “stands at the cusp of the fulfillment of the goal of social democracy envisioned by Babasaheb Ambedkar”.
Security near Delhi has been beefed up in anticipation of a large number of protestors gathering at the borders.
The Delhi Traffic Police on Friday asked commuters travelling from Ghaziabad to the national capital to take alternative routes. “Traffic coming from Ghaziabad towards Delhi side remains heavy due to barricading by local police at roundabout Gazipur Underpass,” the Delhi Traffic Police said in a tweet. “Commuters are advised to take alternative Vikash Marg/GT Road to Delhi.”
In Haryana, the farmers held a “Kisan Mahapanchayat” to mark the first anniversary of protests against the three farm laws in Bahadurgarh. In Amritsar, a group of farmers paid their tributes to those who lost their lives during the year-long protest. About 700 farmers have died during the agitation.
A host of political leaders congratulated farmers on completing one year of their protests.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Aam Aadmi Party supports the farmers’ demands. “The victory of farmers is the victory of democracy,” he said at the Delhi Assembly on Friday. “We support pending demands of farmers, we are with them”’.
In a tweet, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the protests will be remembered for the farmers’ “satyagraha”, the “martyrdom”.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s border entry points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws.
The farmers expressed fear that the central government’s new laws would make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and dismantle the minimum support price regime.
The Centre, however, had claimed that the laws would give farmers more access to markets and boost production through private investment.
In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.