Braving water cannons and tear gas shells, thousands of farmers on Thursday staged protests and marched towards the national capital to protest against the Modi government’s farm sector reforms and the proposed changes to the electricity act.
Farmers clashed with police at the Punjab-Haryana border in Shambhu near Ambala, about 200 km from here, where the farmers marching from Punjab to Delhi were stopped by the Haryana Police.
Dramatic visuals on television channels showed farmers lifting barricades set up by the police and throwing them off the bridge into the Ghaggar river as they marched ahead.
Farmers' organisations from across the country had announced plans to march to the national capital on November 26-27 to lay an indefinite siege, demanding roll back of the farm sector reforms that allow farmers to sell their produce to traders even outside the APMC markets and allow them to pursue contract farming.
The organisations claim that the reforms approved by Parliament in September would allow the corporate sector a greater say in the farm sector and harm the interests of the farmers.
Delhi Police in coordination with the Haryana Police was seen checking vehicles entering the capital, and have even put cement barricades and sand trucks to stop the protesting farmers who are marching towards Delhi in large numbers in their tractors and trolleys.
“We will force the Centre to roll back these black anti-farmer laws,” Gurnam Singh, chief of the Haryana unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union said, adding that the farmers were carrying enough supplies that would last them six months as they planned to lay siege to the national capital.
In Delhi, a group of farmers blocked traffic at the Majnu ka Tilla in North Delhi to protest against the farm sector reforms.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha claimed that farmers’ convoys led by activists Medha Patkar, Pratibha Shinde, Kavita Srinivasan and others were stopped at the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh border near Agra leading the blockage of the highway.
The Delhi Police have already rejected the protest requests from the farmers citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All the requests received from the various farmer organisations regarding protest in Delhi on November 26 and 27 have been rejected and this has already been communicated to the organisers,” Eish Singhal, Delhi Police PRO was quoted as saying.