Farmers gather at western peripheral expressway as agitation completes 100 days
The farmers, agitating against the Centre's three farm legislation, on Saturday blocked the Western Peripheral Expressway to mark 100 days of the movement. Farmers from all age group gathered at the six-lane expressway outside the national capital with their cars, trucks and tractors as they staged a five-hour-long blockade. It will continue till 4pm. Commuters are advised to check traffic advisory before travelling on Kundli–Manesar–Palwal (KMP) Expressway.
The protests are continuing since November 26 last year and in these 100 days of the agitation, farmers mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have braved harsh weather conditions while remaining firm on their demands. As the capital braces for scorching summers and the harvesting season begins, farmers gathering on Saturday asserted that they had no plans to turn back until their demands were met.
"Bitter cold didn't affect our movement, and neither will deathly heat," news agency Reuters quoted Raja Singh, a 58-year-old farmer from Punjab, as saying. "The government has left us no option but to protest," said another farmer from Punjab, Reuters reported.
The farmers are protesting at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. They are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The laws open up the agriculture sector to private players and have been hailed by the government as "historic" and long-needed reforms. However, the farmers fear that the legislation will end the mandi system where they are they have assured of the minimum support price for their produce.
The agitating farmers want the Centre to repeal the laws, meanwhile, the government has assured that it is ready to make amendments and claimed that laws will give farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
While the protests have been mostly peaceful, a brief spate of violence on January 26 led to the death of a protestor and many policemen being injured. Following the violence during the tractor rally, Delhi police put barricades around the protests sites of Ghazipur and Tikri borders. They also installed barbed wire to restrict the movement of the protesting farmers.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Congress' Rahul Gandhi who has been supporting the protests since the beginning, criticised the Centre over the controversial laws. He alleged that the government is torturing the farmers who are fighting for their rights.
"Nails have been laid at the Delhi borders for sons of those who sacrifice their lives on the borders of the country. 'Annadata' ask for their rights, government tortures!" Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.