'We will harvest as well as protest,' says Rakesh Tikait, vows to continue stir over farm laws
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Thursday asserted that the government should not be under the misconception that farmers' protest will end with the onset of the farming season. "We will harvest as well as protest," said Tikait, in a warning to central government, ANI reported. "If they insist, then we will burn our crops. They shouldn't think that protest will end in two months," the new agency further quoted Tikait as saying.
Since the last week of November, thousands of farmers mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh are camping at Delhi borders demanding Centre to three farm laws passed by Parliament. In the latet bid to intensify their protests, the farmers have given a call for 'rail roko' on Thursday. As per the statement by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions which is spearheading the protest, the four-hour-long strike will continue till 4 pm.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police have tightened the security in the national capital in view of the rail blockade. Entry and exit at several metro stations, including at Tikri Border, one of the epicentres of the farmers’ agitation, were also closed under the safety measure. The Tikri Border metro station is just near the farmers’ protest site.
Earlier, farmer unions had called a "chakka jam" on February 6 and a "tractor parade" in Delhi on January 26, during which a section of protesters clashed with police, overturned vehicles while some hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
Farmers are agitating 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.
Calling the agriculture reforms anti-farmers, the protesters are demanding a repeal of the laws. Agitating farmers claim that the new laws will weaken the minimum support price (MSP) system, despite the Centre seeking to assure them in vain that the MSP system was here to stay and the new laws would only provide more options for farmers to sell their produce.
The government has held several rounds of talks with the leaders of the farmers but it failed to bring any resolution to the matter so far.