Farmers protesting against the Centre’s three new agriculture laws marked seven months of their agitation at Delhi’s borders on Saturday, reported The Indian Express. The protestors have decided to march towards the national Capital from their respective locations.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha appealed to protesting farmers across all states to submit memorandums, addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, to governors. The protest has been named “Kheti Bachao, Loktantra Bachao Diwas [save agriculture, save democracy day]”.
“In the last seven months, farmer unions of India, led by Samyukt Kisan Morcha, organised one of the world’s largest and longest continuous protests,” said Darshan Pal of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. “Thousands have joined in from different parts of the country. We plan to intensify our stir as well.”
Videos on social media showed farmers in Punjab breaking through barricades to enter Chandigarh to submit their demands to Governor VP Singh Badnore. The police used water cannons to disperse them, according to PTI.
Farmers also marched to Chandigarh from Haryana’s Panchkula district in huge numbers, The Indian Express reported.
Farmer unions said that thousands were also on their way to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur and Sisauli areas. Saturday’s protest was led by Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Rakesh Tikait.
Tikait announced that farmers will hold more rallies in the coming days, ANI reported. “A tractor rally will be held on July 9 in which people from Shamli and Bhagpat will be present,” he said. “It will reach Singhu border on July 10.”
Another rally will be held on July 24, in which farmers from Bijnor and Meerut will participate, Tikait added. “On the night of July 24, they will halt at Meerut toll and on 25th July the rally will reach here [the Delhi-Ghazipur border].
In view of the farmers’ protest, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation shut three stations till 2 pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar appealed to farmers’ unions to end their protest. “The Centre has held 11 rounds of talks with them,” he said. “The farm laws will change the lives of farmers. The government has raised minimum support price. If the farmers’ unions have any concerns about the provisions of these laws, the government is ready to discuss them.”
A protest march has also been planned in United States’ Massachusetts state in support of the farmers protesting in India, according to The Indian Express.
On Friday, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union announced that they will begin a three-day protest in Patiala from August 9 if their demands are not addressed. Patiala is the hometown of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the central 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.
The central government and the farmers have held 11 rounds of talks on the matter since December, but no consensus has been reached so far.