Farmers Plan Protest March Despite Sealed Borders: Demands and Counteractions

Farmers

More than two years after the Narendra Modi government repealed three agriculture laws following a year-long protest by farmers, state borders in North India are being sealed again to prevent another march to Delhi.

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have announced that under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha Union, they will travel to Delhi on February 13 to protest against the Union government’s failure to fulfill the promises it had made when the farm laws were repealed in November 2021.

farmers

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Haryana government has sealed its borders with Punjab at three places to stop farmers from entering the state. The Delhi Police, which reports to the BJP government at the Centre, has also put up barricades at the city’s Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur borders.

Internet Shutdown and Legal Threats

Mobile internet services have been suspended in seven districts of Haryana. The Haryana Police have sent notices to farmers threatening to seize their assets if they damage public property during the protest. Police have also made announcements over loudspeakers, threatening to cancel the passports of those who participate in the protest.

In response, farmers have stated their intention to hold a peaceful march and are prepared for a prolonged demonstration if they are denied entry into the capital.

The Demands

The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, representing more than 70 farmer bodies from Punjab and Haryana, has outlined 12 demands. These include a legal guarantee on minimum support price on crops, withdrawal of cases lodged against protestors during the farm law agitation, compensation for families of deceased farmers, and action against accused persons in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, which includes the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra.

Ongoing Negotiations and Future Plans

Despite assurances from the Union Agriculture Ministry in December 2021 and recent meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann and Union ministers, farmers remain steadfast in their demand for concrete action.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farm unions, has opted not to participate in the February 13 march but plans a countrywide rural shutdown on February 16.

Preparations and Responses

Farmers from Punjab have already begun their march towards Delhi, while the authorities have responded with stringent measures, including internet shutdowns, legal threats, and restrictions on fuel access.

Farmers have taken precautions, such as going underground to avoid detention and claim to be prepared for a sustained protest, equipped with food supplies for several months.

Anticipating Further Developments

The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and other farmer unions remain vigilant, monitoring the situation and expressing confidence that more unions will join the protests if necessary.

While some unions have chosen not to participate in the immediate protest, they have vowed to support farmers and criticize government actions deemed undemocratic or repressive.

As tensions escalate, both farmers and authorities brace for what could be a protracted standoff at the Punjab-Haryana and Delhi borders.

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