Two months after the Parliament passed the new Farm Laws, farmers from Punjab and Haryana decided to go to take seige of the national capital Delhi ('Delhi Chalo') to protest against the laws.
Farmers have been protesting since the laws were being discussed in the Parliament but now decided to step up the attack against the Centre by protesting in Delhi. Several political leaders and parties including Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress among others have extended support to the agitating farmers.
1. Farmers start marching to Delhi in protest against newly implemented farm laws
Farmers started the 'Delhi Chalo' march on November 26 against the farm laws that were passed in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament in September. They were enacted soon after and farmers in several states have expressed displeasure over the new laws. Punjab, whose main source of income comes from farming, has been the most vocal against these laws.
Last week, the farmers lifted the 60-day 'rail roko' agitation for 15 days starting November 23 and agreed to let all goods and passenger trains operate across Punjab.
Over hundreds of farmers have started gathering at the Delhi border along with Haryana despite barricades. BJP-ruled Haryana has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in several parts of the state to prevent assembly of protesters.
Delhi Police and the Centre at first didn't allow entry to farmers but later rolled back their decision and said that farmers can protest at Burari ground.
2. Farmers face tear gas, water cannons, attempt to murder charges in Haryana; one farmers' supporter burnt alive
Farmers from Punjab faced water cannons and broke police barriers at the Tikri and Singhu borders as they pushed towards the national capital on November 26th..
Haryana and Delhi Police used water cannons and lobbed teargas shells as agitators pushed through barricades.
Haryana Police has booked state Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers on attempt to murder, rioting, causing obstruction in government duty and other charges for violations during their "Delhi Chalo" march, officials said on November 28.
Haryana's Director General of Police Manoj Yadava said the farmers took an aggressive stand and tried to disturb law and order by "pelting stones" at police at many places.
A 55-year-old tractor repairman from Punjab, Janak Raj, who was in support of the agitating farmer was burnt alive after the car in which he was sleeping caught fire on the night of November 28 near the Delhi-Haryana border, NDTV reported.
3. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, and Haryana CM M L Khattar engage in a war of words
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 26 slammed the BJP-led government in Haryana for stopping farmers from moving towards Delhi, alleging the use of "brute force" against the agitating farmers and claimed that it was “totally undemocratic and unconstitutional”.
Haryana had sealed its borders with Punjab to prevent farmers from entering the state for their 'Delhi Chalo' protest march.
“Why is Haryana govt provoking them by resorting to force? Don't the farmers have the right to pass peacefully through a public highway?", Singh asked.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar said that he would quit politics if the Minimum Support Price mechanism is ever dismantled. I've said it earlier and I'm saying it again, I'll leave politics if there'll be any trouble on the MSP -- therefore, please stop inciting innocent farmers,” Khattar tweeted.
“I've been trying to reach out to you for the last 3 days but, sadly, you have decided to stay unreachable -- is this how serious you are for farmers’ issues? You're only tweeting and running away from talks, why?,” Khattar said in another tweet.
Later on November 28, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar claimed the presence of some “unwanted elements” in the protest indicating that there were Khalistani separatists in the crowds that had swept Delhi and the National Capital Region.
Amarinder Singh vehemently slammed Khattar for allegedly accusing the former of instigating the farmers for protest. "Is Amarinder Khalistani? What nonsense is this? Once they say Amarinder is heading it, once they say Khalistan is heading it. Tell them to make up their mind first," Singh said.
4. Amit Shah puts forward a conditional deal to advance talks; protesting farmers refuse the offer
As more farmers' groups converged at the national capital, Home Minister Amit Shah stepped in with an offer to expedite talks, asking the protestors to clear highways and shift to the Burari grounds.
“I appeal to the protesting farmers that the government of India is ready to hold talks. The Agriculture Minister has invited them on December 3 for discussion. If farmers' unions want to hold a discussion before December 3, then, I assure you that it will happen as soon as you shift your protest to a designated place,” Shah said.
Shah said that at many places, farmers were staying in their tractor-trolleys on highways in this cold. “I appeal to them that Delhi Police are ready to shift you to big ground, please go there,”(sic) he said.
However, farmer leaders held a crucial meeting on Sunday and rejected Union Home Minister Amit Shah's offer of talks after moving to the Burari Ground.
“The conditions put for talks is an insult to farmers. We will never go to Burari. It is an open jail,” Surjeet Singh Phul, President of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) told reporters at the Singhu border, where a large number of farmers have staged sit-in protests for the past four days.
5. Farmers stay put; Tikri, Singhu borders closed, traffic snarls across Delhi
Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws on Sunday decided not to shift to the Burari ground in Delhi and continue protesting at the Delhi borders.
Farmer leader Harmeet Singh Kadian, who is the president of BKU (Kadian) said that the protesters will not shift to the Burari ground. Traffic continued to be disrupted in the city due to the protests.
Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Traffic Police on Monday alerted commuters to take an alternate route since Singhu and Tikri borders continued to remain closed.
6. PM Modi talks about the farm laws in the 71st edition of Mann Ki Baat
As farmers continued protesting against the farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to allay their apprehensions insisting that the reforms have opened new opportunities for farmers, who have already started benefiting from the initiatives.
“These reforms have not only broken shackles of farmers but have also given new rights and opportunities for them,” the prime minister said in his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio talk and listed out instances where farmers have benefited from the new laws.
He also gave examples of farmers who have benefitted from the new farm laws. However, he did not mention the protests or protesters at the borders.
Simultaneously, Amit Shah held campaign rallies for the Hyderabad civic polls on Sunday, where hundreds of people gathered in support, which was criticised by several leaders and political analysts as farmers pashed pushback in Delhi with Covid-19 protocols as the reason.
(With inputs from PTI)