Farmers march to Delhi turns violent

Last Updated 02 October 2018, 19:11 IST

Riding on tractors and marching on foot, thousands of farmers on Tuesday knocked on the doors of the national capital with a demand for better prices for their produce sending the Modi government into a huddle.

An estimated 20,000 farmers, led by Naresh Tikait, the president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, were stopped at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Kaushambi and Vaishali in Ghaziabad where they broke into scuffles with the police and paramilitary forces, who fired tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse them.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Uttar Pradesh Minister Suresh Rana held meetings with the farmers’ representatives.

Talks fail

After the meeting, Shekhawat drove down to ground zero of the protests to announce certain demands that the government was ready to accept, but was booed down by farmers who expected clear assurances on better support price for their crop and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.

The farmers had begun their Kisan Kranti Yatra on September 23 from Haridwar and were planning to reach Kisan Ghat, the memorial to former prime minister late Chaudhary Charan Singh, which is adjacent to Raj Ghat.

The farmers have decided to camp at the Delhi-UP border on Tuesday night and make an attempt to march to Kisan Ghat on Wednesday.

“We are not satisfied with the assurances given by the government. We will discuss this and then decide on the future course of action,” said Tikait, whose father late Mahendra Singh Tikait had led a farmers’ protest at the India Gate lawns in 1998 forcing the then Rajiv Gandhi government to agree to their charter of demands.

Police use tear gas to disperse farmers protesting at Delhi-UP borderduring 'Kisan Kranti Padyatra' in New Delhi. PTI Photo
Police use tear gas to disperse farmers protesting at Delhi-UP border
during 'Kisan Kranti Padyatra' in New Delhi. PTI Photo

Earlier, the UP-Delhi border — also the starting point of the first phase of the eight-lane Delhi-Meerut Expressway — witnessed dramatic scenes as farmers tried to drive the tractors into three layers of iron barricades put up by the police.

Violence broke out as the farmers threw stones at the police who had to resort to firing tear gas shells and water cannons.

Some of the protesting farmers claimed that a few Delhi Police personnel had resorted to lathicharge against some of them.

The Delhi Police, however, denied the charge, and on the contrary, claimed that seven of their personnel, including an assistant commissioner of police, were injured.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Left parties threw their weight behind the farmers and lashed out at the Modi government for stopping them from marching to Delhi.

“On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s celebrations of Gandhi Jayanti began with the brutal beating of peaceful farmers coming to Delhi. Now, the farmers cannot even come to the national capital to air their grievances,” Rahul said.

SP chief and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav blamed the Modi government for not fulfilling the promises made to farmers. “The farmers have all the right to protest. We strongly support their movement,” said Yadav.

“Delhi belongs to everyone. Farmers cannot be stopped from visiting Delhi. The farmers’ demands are justified. Their demands should be accepted,” Kejriwal said.

The Left parties issued a joint statement condemning the use of violence to quell the farmers’ protests. “We condemn the brutal attack on protesting farmers on the outskirts of Delhi.

This police action, once again, demonstrates the anti-kisan attitude of the Modi government,” a statement by CPM, CPI and CPI(ML)-Liberation said.


(Published 02 October 2018, 06:10 IST)

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