Western UP farmers hold rally in Ghaziabad to support farm laws
Ghaziabad: Amid the ongoing protests by farmers at the UP Gate in Ghaziabad, another group of about 2,000 farmers on Sunday reached Indirapuram from different parts of western Uttar Pradesh and held a rally in support of the Centre’s three new farm laws. Officials of the Uttar Pradesh police said that the pro-bills farmers had come in about 300-350 tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to Indirapuram.
Sunday’s was the first pro-farm law rally in Ghaziabad, the police said, adding that the farmers held the rally at Ramlila Ground in Indirapuram under the banner of ‘Hind Mazdoor Kisan Samiti’. Their vehicles made various stoppages at Meerut, Modinagar, Muradnagar and Raj Nagar Extension before proceeding towards Indirapuram, the police said.
A major traffic jam also ensued between Arthala and Mohan Nagar where the farmers and officials indulged in heated exchange of words. However, senior police officials said that the traffic jam was for a brief period and was cleared up soon.
“They (farmers) were trying to proceed on a different route and our officers asked them to follow a designated route allotted to them to proceed to Indirapuram. This resulted in brief disruption in traffic. These farmers had arrived with about 300-350 tractor-trolleys and other vehicles, and we had made arrangements to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to commuters,” said Praveen Kumar, inspector general of police (Meerut range).
The leaders of Hind Mazdoor Kisan Samiti’ (HMKS) said that they were supporting the three farm laws and should also be included in talks between the government representatives and protesting farmers.
“It seems that opposition to the three laws has some political motive behind it. When the Prime Minister has several times said that the new laws will not harm interests of farmers, other groups are continuing to oppose the laws. However, we have no personal differences with them as they are also farmers like us,” said Satish Kumar, secretary, HMKS.
Ghaziabad district magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey said that the pro-farm law farmers had planned to go to Delhi via the UP Gate, but they were stopped and taken to Indirapuram.
“We did not permit them to go to Delhi, and they were taken to Ramlila Ground in Indirapuram where they held their rally. They were also not allowed to move to the UP Gate as another group of farmers is protesting there and could have raised law and order concerns. We have asked them to hold the rally in Indirapuram and return,” Pandey added.
The farmers said that they accepted the request of the Ghaziabad district administration. “Since our rally was held at Indirapuram, a small delegation will go to Delhi and try to meet the Union agricultural minister. We have also demanded that if there are talks of protesting farmers with the government, farmers supporting the new agriculture laws should also be included. We have intent that talks should be held and the ongoing stalemate should end. Like other farmers, we too have our demands such as waiver of electricity bills and free plying of old tractors. But we support the new farm laws,” Satish Kumar added.
Amit Kumar, treasurer of the association, said, “Those who are now opposing the farm laws had initially supported the laws. We maintain that rumours are being spread among farmers that their land will be taken over. However, it is not so. Even the Prime Minister has several times assured that the minimum support price (MSP) will remain. However, some people are trying to mislead farmers.”
The farmers protesting at the UP Gate have been demanding rollback of the new farm laws and had also been demanding a new law on MSP. At least six rounds of talks with the government had been held so far, but failed to end the stalemate.
“We are not opposed to farmers who are supporting the new farm laws. They have right to raise voices like we are doing to oppose the new legislations. We want that they should continue with their work and we will continue with our protest,” said Rajbir Singh, state vice-president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
The BKU supporters from western UP and farmers from Punjab and Uttarakhand have been opposing the three farm laws and continuing with their agitation at the UP Gate since November 28.