The All India Transport Congress, representing about 95 lakh truckers, on Wednesday threatened to halt operations in North India from December 8 if the government failed to address concerns of the farming community.
Leaders of farmer unions warned that they would “take more steps” if the Centre does not fulfill their demands and abolish the new agricultural laws, which they fear will reduce their earnings and give more power to corporations.
Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Police used water cannons on Punjab Youth Congress workers, who gheraoed Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence. The workers, who were then detained, were demanding apology from the chief minister for the use of force against the protesting farmers.
Earlier in the day, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met Home Minister Amit Shah as thousands of farmers from several states in India, especially Punjab and Haryana, continued to protest for the seventh day at Delhi’s borders.
The Centre has called for a fourth round of talks with the farmers on December 3, after the meeting between the government and over 30 union leaders on Tuesday failed to break the deadlock.
Here are the day’s updates:
10 pm: Union Home Minister Amit Shah may meet Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday amid the escalating farmers’ protests, reports NDTV, citing sources. The meeting is likely to take place at 9.30 am.
9.30 pm: The Noida Police has issued an advisory, urging commuters to avoid the Chilla border that links Noida and Delhi. People have been advised to use the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway to travel to their destinations, reports India Today.
8.30 pm: Earlier in the day, Aam Aadmi Party’s women’s wing and the party’s volunteers formed a human chain at Delhi’s ITO area in solidarity with farmers, reports PTI.
7.19 pm: The All India Transport Congress, which represents about 95 lakh truckers, threatens to halt operations in North India from December 8 if the government fails to address concerns of the farming community, reports PTI.
“AIMTC has already extended its support to the farmer agitation from day one,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal says. “We have decided on stopping our operations strategically starting from North India and if the government does not address the issue of the farmers then we may decide to go for shutting down of transport operations nationwide in their support.”
7.15 pm: The Bar Council condemns the three farms laws and will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to repeal them, senior advocate HS Phoolka tells ANI. “It [the legislations] are also against the lawyers as it bars the civil court’s jurisdiction and won’t let farmers get justice,” Phoolka adds.
5.44 pm: Lok Sangharsh Morcha member Pratibha Shinde says that Thursday, December 2, would be the “last chance” for the government to take a decision on the new laws, failing which, the farmers “movement will become huge and the government will fall”, reports ANI. “We will burn effigies in every district of Maharashtra tomorrow [December 3] and on December 5 in Gujarat to protest against the Centre,” Shinde adds.
5.40 pm: Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal says the farmers want the Centre to convene a special Parliament session to repeal the new agricultural laws, reports ANI. “We call fir burning of effigies throughout the country to protest against the [Narendra] Modi government and corporate houses on December 5,” he adds.
5.26 pm: Farmers leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni tells PTI that if the Centre does not fulfil their demands, they will have to “take more steps”. Another leader Darshan Singh adds: “We will continue our agitation till the three farm laws are repealed.
4.46 pm: The Delhi Police have removed barricades at the Delhi-Noida border allowing movement of traffic, reports ANI.
4.43 pm: Kejriwal adds that the reason behind Singh’s allegation is that the Delhi government did not allow the nine stadiums in Delhi to be converted into jails. “Centre had plans to put the farmers in these stadiums,” he says. “They are upset with me as I didn’t give permission for making them jails.”
4.42 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh has alleged that he had “passed the black laws” in the Capital. “How can he do such low-level politics in this fragile situation?” he adds, according to ANI. “It’s not up to [the] state government to implement it. Had it been so why would farmers of country hold talks with Centre.”
2.29 pm: Police use water cannon on Punjab Youth Congress workers, who gheraoed Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence, reported ANI. The workers, who were then detained, were demanding apology from the chief minister for the alleged use of force against the protesting farmers.
1.57 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweets asking the government to repeal the three farm laws.
“Modi government, stop giving false hopes to farmers, stop deceit and attack, stop the pretence of talks,” he tweeted in Hindi.
1.54 pm: Police use water cannon on Punjab Youth Congress workers in Chandigarh during demonstration at Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence seeking apology, for using force against agitating farmers, reports ANI.
12.04 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal meet Home Minister Amit Shah, reports News18.
12.01 pm: Protests continue in Singhu at the Delhi-Haryana border.
11.55 am: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi takes another jibe at the Narendra Modi government. He says that the government promised to double farmers’ income but has instead increased the “income of its cronies by four times and halved farmers’ income”.
“This is government of lies and a ‘suit-boot’ government,” he says.
11.30 am: Visuals from the Delhi-Ghazipur and Delhi-Noida borders, where farmers are continuing to protest. This is the seventh straight day of protests around Delhi’s borders.
10.27 am: Delhi farmers continue to protest at the Singhu border.
10.24 am: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday accused the Aam Aadmi Party of adopting double standards, reports The Hindu. Singh said the party executed the new farm laws through a gazette notification on November 23 but was pretending to be standing with the farmers.
“First they failed to pass any amendment laws in the Delhi Assembly to negate the central laws, as was done in Punjab,” the chief minister said. “And now they have gone so far as to officially notify the legislations.”
10.17 am: The Delhi Traffic Police issue an alert, advising commuters to avoid Noida link road for going to Noida and use NH 24 and the DND Flyway. They say that the Chilla border on Noida link road is closed for traffic due to farmers’ protests near Gautam Budh Dwar.
10.14 am: The Delhi Traffic Police advise commuters to take Dhansa, Daurala, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders as Tikri, Jharoda and Jhatikra borders were closed for travelling. Only two-wheelers were allowed at the Badusarai border.
8.40 am: Visuals from the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border show farmers trying to remove barricades.
8.30 am: What are the farm laws?
The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.
Farmers and traders have alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.
Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills.
8.20 am: The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana held demonstrations in Maharashtra’s Pune, Kolhapur and Aurangabad cities to show support to protesting farmers, The Indian Express reports. The party’s president Raju Shetti said the farm laws were “anti-farmer” and warned that no Union minister would be allowed to enter Maharashtra if the farmers’ concerns were not addressed.
“In the name of reforms, the Centre is giving absolute powers to corporate and big business houses,” Shetti said. “Instead of empowering farmers, they are going to become more vulnerable, being left at the mercy of big business houses. Moreover, the law does not guarantee Minimum Support Price, which is basic to ensure financial stability of farmers.”
He added: “The Union government should note that the protest is not limited to Punjab and Haryana. Farmers across country, including Maharashtra, are supporting the agitation.”
8.10 am: The Northern Railways has cancelled, terminated or diverted a few trains between Amritsar and some key destinations in Punjab amid the agitation, ANI reports.
8 am: Thousands of farmers from several states in India, especially Punjab and Haryana, have camped at Delhi’s borders for six days now, demonstrating against the Centre’s agriculture laws. The farmers had to brave tear gas and water cannons on their march to enter Delhi as the police refused them entry.
The authorities had taken extraordinary measures to set up blockades on highways, parking buses, trucks and other large vehicles. At some places, they even dug up trenches to obstruct farmers, many of whom camped on highways for the night in biting cold. Dramatic scenes unfolded at the borders as the farmers threw barricades set up by the police into a river. They also clashed with the police on a bridge.
Eventually, they were allowed to enter the Capital and were designated a protest site not to their liking, many chose to camp at the Delhi border, especially at the Tikri and Singhu border crossings.
Here’s a quick recap of Tuesday’s developments:
- The Centre called for a fourth round of talks with protesting farmers on December 3, after the meeting between the government and over 30 union leaders on Tuesday failed to break the impasse over the new agricultural laws. The talks remained inconclusive as both the parties failed to reach a common ground, leaders of farmers’ groups said.
- Among those who participated in the talks, held at Vigyan Bhawan, were 32 unions from Punjab, two representatives from Haryana, Yogendra Yadav on behalf of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, and one leader from Uttar Pradesh. From the government’s side, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal were present at the meeting.
- During the discussion, the government offered to set up a committee to look into the concerns related to the laws. But the farmers turned down the idea. They remained adamant that the Centre should abolish the new legislations. The farmer unions emphasised that their demand was “non-negotiable”.
- The police detained Shaheen Bagh activist Bilkis “Dadi” from Singhu border after she joined the agitation. Earlier, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad also joined the protest at the Ghazipur-Ghaziabad border, where farmers have been camping on highways inside their trucks and tractors.
- The Jannayak Janata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally in Haryana, urged the Narendra Modi-led government to quickly address the concerns of the farmers protesting against the new agricultural laws near Delhi. Meanwhile, Independent MLA Sombir Sangwan withdrew his support to the Haryana coalition government over the laws.
- Union Minister VK Singh sparked a row after he said that thousands of protestors against the Centre’s agricultural laws near Delhi “did not appear to be farmers in pictures”. Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party was quick to respond to Singh and asked him whether the farmers should come with a “plough and oxen”.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in support of the farmers’ protest and said that his country will always defend the rights of peaceful protestors. Trudeau, the first world leader to comment publicly on the ongoing protests, said that he believes in the process of dialogue. India quickly criticised the comments and said they were unwarranted and ill-informed.
- Congress MP Rahul Gandhi criticised the government’s approach towards handling the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three newly-passed agriculture laws.