At UP Gate, ‘Black Day’ observed to mark six months of farmer protest
Ghaziabad: Hundreds of farmers protesting against the Centre’s three new farm laws at the UP Gate marked six months of their agitation on Wednesday by observing a “Black Day” and burning effigies of the government. Later, farmer leaders, who have been demanding the rollback of the farm laws, said that the government is using Covid-19 just as an “alibi so that the laws stay”.
During the protest, the farmers also waved black flags to press for their demands. Farmer leader Jagtar Singh Bajwa, who is a member of UP Gate farmers’ committee, said that about 1,000 farmers gathered to observe “Kala Diwas (Black Day)”, but they followed all Covid protocols.
According to the directions of the UP government, the state faces partial Covid-19 curfew, and processions or gatherings are banned. The partial curfew came into effect on the night of April 30 and would continue till May 31.
“We did not call farmers, but they arrived on their own. We observed social distancing, and everyone was wearing a mask. We waved black flags and burnt effigies. Flags were also waived by people in villages as mark of protest. For past six months, there has been no solution and we will continue our movement,” Bajwa added.
The farmers are staying put at the UP Gate site since November 28 last year and also occupying the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway since December 3. The several talks with the Centre have failed to break the deadlock.
The Ghaziabad police had made elaborate arrangements on Wednesday and said that the protest by farmers went on peacefully. “They brought black flags and also tried to burn effigies. When we tried to stop them, they entered jurisdiction of Delhi. About 700-800 protesters had gathered today, which was higher than what normally is nowadays. Majority of them arrived from Uttarakhand. The police deployment was there, and the protest passed of peacefully,” said Gyanendra Kumar Singh, superintendent of police (city 2).
Meanwhile, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said it seems that the agitation will get prolonged. “The government does not ready to talk to peaceful protesters. We ask if Covid is a bigger issue or farm laws are a bigger issue. If Covid is a bigger issue, they should take back the laws and farmers will return home. But Covid is just taken as alibi so that laws continue to stay. But we will carry our our protest peacefully,” Tikait said at the UP Gate on Wednesday.
The last talks between the farm union leaders and the government were held on January 22.
“During the peak of the pandemic, an injection which costs ₹400-800 was sold for thousands of rupees and oxygen cylinders were refilled for as high as ₹20,000. Common man suffered. They faced similar situation like farmers will face with the new laws. We have sent letters and if the government talks to us, we will talk. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality. If they snap our electricity supply, we will disconnect supply of electricity to police stations and administrative offices,” Tikait added.
Tikait, during the earlier days of the agitation, had alleged that with the new laws, the crops of farmers would go to corporates and farmers would suffer.