Lucknow: At a time when thousands of farmers from across Uttar Pradesh have camped at the Ghazipur border between Delhi and Noida, demanding repeal of the Centre's new farm laws, the district administration in Sambhal issued notices to six farmer leaders on Thursday. The leaders have been asked to submit personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each, along with sureties from two guarantors of the same amount, after police accused them of trying to 'provoke' local farmers for organising demonstrations at district headquarters. The police report also mentioned 'breach of peace' during the protest, an official confirmed.
The six farmers who were served notices include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asli) Sambhal district president Rajpal Singh Yadav and farmer leaders Jaiveer Singh, Brahmachari Yadav, Satendra Yadav, Raudas and Veer Singh.
The notices have been issued under Section 111 (magistrate order against any person who is likely to commit breach of peace) of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the basis of a report submitted by police, the official said.
“The farmers leaders in Sambhal were provoking local farmers in the village and also breaching peace in the area while spreading fake news regarding agri laws among farmers which could escalate tension. They have been also organising protest against three contentious farms legislations without informing district administration" Sub-Divisional Magistrate Deependra Yadav told NewsClick, adding that tough action would be taken against them if they fail to submit the bond.
However, BKU’s (Asli) district president Rajpal Singh Yadav said that sending legal notices of such a hefty sum amounts to “unnecessary harassment” by the “anti-farmer” Yogi Adityanath government.
"We all are dependent on farming and holding meetings with farmers in the village and explaining them about the new farm law in a democratic manner is not a crime, but this authoritarian government is trying to create a fear psychosis among farmers by sending notices. They are mistaken if they think they can mute our voices," Yadav said, adding that every citizen has the right to raise objections to wrongdoing.
Singh further added, "We will not fill any bonds no matter the police hang us or send us to jail. We are fighting for the rights of farmers and it will continue to do so until the government rolls back the farm laws and legally guarantees Minimum Support Price (MSP.”
The farmer leader also expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Reacting to the notices sent to the farmers, the national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rakesh Tikait, told NewsClick, "Farmers are being harassed in Western Uttar Pradesh for taking part in the protest against three laws. They are either being detained or put under house arrest. Their tractors and trolleys are being seized. Despite these hurdles, farmers are coming to Delhi.”
Tikait alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party government was trying to make the peaceful farmer’s movement “violent”. “We will not tolerate such harassment at any cost. If the farmers are sent notices or stopped anywhere from going to Delhi, its effect will be seen here. We will block the Ghazipur border," he said, adding that BKU workers would take their animals to the respective police stations if the administration does not stop this.
A farmer leader based out of Meerut said on the condition of anonymity that farmers in the district had also been sent legal notices by the district administration for organising protest and capturing toll plazas last week.
"Farmers are living in fear in Meerut and even the sugarcane belt has 24X7 police patrolling to prevent farmers from organising any demonstration or moving toward Delhi. I have heard that a few farmer leaders received notices of fine in Meerut too," he told NewsClick.
KHAP PANCHAYAT EXTENDED SUPPORT
Meanwhile, a number of "khaps" in Muzaffarnagar have extended support to the farmers' agitation.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the chiefs of "khaps" (caste councils) held on December 14 at Shoram village in the Shahpur police station area of Muzaffarnagar district. Khaps of Western Uttar Pradesh assembled there.
Subhash Balyan, secretary of the All Khap Council, addressing the gathering at the border, said the Centre's three new agri marketing laws were completely against farmers. “The government should have taken farmers into confidence before taking the decision on farm Bills," said Balyan adding that thousands of farmers will join the movement in few days.