Farmers agitating against the Centre’s farm laws observed Wednesday as a “black day” to mark six months of their protests.

Last year, farmers stormed into the bordering areas of the capital between November 25 and 26 braving barricades, batons and tear gas, to protest against the farming legislature they dubbed as “black laws”. Since then, thousands of them have settled down with their tractors and trolleys at Singhu and Tikri areas bordering Haryana and at Ghazipur bordering Uttar Pradesh.

As part of the protest on Wednesday, several farmers and protestors hoisted black flags atop their houses, including Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Aam Aadmi Party leader Harpal Singh Cheema.

The SAD chief urged the Centre to accept the demand of protesting farmers and demanded complete withdrawal of the farm laws. Opposing the laws, the Shiromani Akali Dal had quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in September.

Farmers also took out protest marches in some areas of Punjab and Haryana, waved black flags and shouted slogans against the Centre.

Protestors also gathered at the Delhi-Haryana border in Singhu and Tikri to mark the protest.

The farmers also burnt effigies at various places, including the Singhu border, the Ghazipur border and Amritsar, according to PTI.

“We will burn the effigy of the government [leaders] while people can protest by putting black flags outside their homes, on their vehicles,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait had said on Tuesday, reported The Times of India. “Is putting a black flag a crime? We are upset with somebody and we are using it as a sign [of protest].”

Farmers burn an effigy during their protest against the farm laws, marking Wednesday as "black day", at Singhu border in Delhi. (Photo by Shahbaz Khan/PTI)

In Haryana, state Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni urged farmers to hoist black flags at their houses and on their vehicles. Farmer bodies have also appealed to labourers, traders, shopkeepers, youth and other sections to raise black flags at their homes, shops and industrial establishments.

On Tuesday, Chaduni had asked the agitators to protest wherever they are to avoid crowds in view of the raging coronavirus pandemic. However, several farmers set off from Haryana and Punjab to Delhi on Sunday to join those protesting at the borders of the national Capital. Chaduni himself had tweeted photos of a procession of farmers in Haryana’s Karnal. The Twitter handle of Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan also posted photos of protestors on their way to Tikri from the Khanauri border in Sangrur district of Punjab.

A petition was filed to stop farmers from gathering in Delhi but the High Court refused to look into it, reported PTI. The petition had also sought directions to the Delhi Police to enforce guidelines so that the event does not become a super spreader.

Several political parties including the Congress, Janata Dal (Secular), Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, had extended their support to observe Wednesday as a “black day”.

The farm laws protest

Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.

The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislation are pro-farmer.

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.

Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.