New laws spark protest by angry farmers in Punjab and Haryana
Farmers in Punjab have threatened to stop rail traffic fro three days from September 24 in protest against the new farm laws.Updated: Sep 21, 2020, 00:15 IST
Thousands of farmers staged protests across Haryana and Punjab on Sunday against the three contentious farm sector bills even as the Rajya Sabha passed two of these amid uproar by opposition members.
In Haryana, the farmers poured out of the hinterlands and marched towards the urban belts on foot, two-wheelers, tractors and cars, and staged sit-ins at various state and national highways, blocking the traffic for about three hours. The protest began around 12 noon and passed off peacefully. Though there were no reports of violence, the sit-ins caused major inconvenience to commuters.
The police had been on their toes since Saturday night and elaborate arrangements had been made to deal with the demonstrations and divert vehicular traffic in advance.
Sunday’s demonstration was held 10 days after the lathicharge on farmers in Pipli of Kurukshetra. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni) that has been spearheading this agitation in Haryana with the support of 17 other unions received an impressive response from the farmers for the statewide protest.
BKU’s state chief Gurnam Singh Charuni said the protest was peaceful and 17 farmer organisations had extended their support to the Chakka Jam (road block). He said the next decision will be taken after a discussion with the leaders of other farmer organisations.
“The protests remained peaceful... traffic was restored after the farmers lifted the blockade around 3 pm,” Kurukshetra ‘s superintendent of police Astha Modi said.
In a last ditch effort to persuade the farmers to call off the stir, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday urged farmers to defer their agitation and invited the farmers for talks.
RAIL ROKO IN PUNJAB FROM SEPT 24 TO 26
Farmers also staged demonstrations in most districts of Punjab. Farmers’ organisations also announced a three-day ‘Rail Roko Andolan’ and gave a call to farmers to boycott all politicians supporting the new laws.
Addressing protesters at Badal village in Muktsar BKU (Ekta-Ugrahana) state secretary Shingara Singh Mann said that railway services will be disrupted in the state from September 24 to 26.
He termed the new central legislations as a “direct attack on the rights of farmers, traders and farm labourers”. Harinder Singh Lakhowal, a key member of another BKU faction, said all 31 farmers’ unions have extended support to the three-day ‘Rail Roko’ call.
Similar protests were held in Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Ludhiana, Faridkot, and Sangrur districts. In Amritsar, farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) started a protest march from the deputy commissioner’s office and blocked Amritsar-Ajnala road for around one hour, disrupting traffic movement. KMSC general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher appealed to farmers to take part in the ‘Rail Roko Andolan’.
The Punjab Youth Congress also took out a ‘tractor rally’. Led by Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar and PYC chief Barinder Singh Dhillon, hundreds of party workers on tractors converged from Dera Bassi town and were headed towards Delhi to protest against the passage of the three farm bills but were stopped by the Haryana police at the Haryana-Punjab border near Ambala. When the protesters insisted on heading to the national capital to ‘gherao’ the Parliament and tried to knock down the barricade, the Haryana police used water cannons to disperse them. The protesters also allegedly set one of the tractors on fire.
Earlier, Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh also spoke for farmers, stating they are the country’s backbone and the Central government’s move to harm their interests is unfortunate.
“The economy of India is based on agriculture. If we want to save the economy and uplift the standards of living of people, farmers must be saved,” he said in a video.