Lucknow: As thousands of farmers from several parts of Uttar Pradesh began moving toward New Delhi as part of the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest called for November 26 and 27, the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government adopted repressive measures and arrested over a dozen local farmer leaders and detained several others to prevent their movement through state.
A day ahead of the protests, Uttar Pradesh heavily barricaded its borders with Delhi and Rajasthan as well as its bus service to the neighbouring state in a bid to foil the march. Water cannons were used against farmers near Noida.
In Uttar Pradesh, separate rallies in Western Uttar Pradesh were stopped. As farmers continued to make their way to the National Capital, they were teargassed, sprayed water cannons in the cold weather.
"The farmers of the country are oppressed, they are victims, and this government, instead of listening to their plight, is raining ‘lathis’ on them and unleashing water cannons. We strongly condemn the violent crackdown. If you are not sensitive to the plight of the farmers, they will use their right to uproot you from power,” Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) told Newsclick, adding that, "the farmers are demanding their rights as per law.
“If Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi says that there will be minimum support price (MSP) for them, then why is his government not making a law that buying crops below MSP is a criminal offence? " asked Tikait.
The BKU leader further added, "The contentious farm laws should be amended and the UP government - like other states such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - must make buying of crops below MSP a criminal offence."
He also demanded that the sugarcane price be fixed at Rs 450 per quintal.
Tikait said that from Friday morning (10:30 am) till indefinite period, the farmers from Western Uttar Pradesh will block all the national highways leading to Delhi and Uttarakhand. "Till the time the government gives us a firm assurance that our demands will be met, we are not going to leave highways," Tikait told Newsclick.
Brij Bihar, general secretary of UP, Mazdoor Kisan Manch said: “Farmers should have been allowed to enter Delhi. Why are they not being allowed to enter Delhi? Do only political parties have the right to go to Delhi? This is wrong,” he said.
FARMERS' CONVOY STOPPED AT RAJASTHAN-UP BORDER
A farmers’ convoy led by Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar, Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee member (AIKSCC) Pratibha Shinde, Kavita Srinivasan and others, travelling from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh was stopped near Snaiyan village in Agra district close to the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh border, resulting in a partial blockade of national highway for several hours.
Patkar along with others sat on dharna on highway and dubbed the Modi government as "anti-farmer". She said farmers across the country had been forced to take to the streets as "injustice" was meted out to them by the dispensation.
"It has become necessary to protect the Constitution. Everyone, be it farmer or migrant workers, is being harassed. The Central government has put everything in private hands," the activist told Newsclick over phone.
UP SEALS ALL STATE BORDERS
Heavy deployment of police was seen at the East Delhi's Ghazipur border on Thursday morning in anticipation of the ‘Delhi-Chalo’ tractor march in the national capital by farmers protesting against the Centre’s three newly-imposed farm laws.
The march is organised by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, along with various factions of Bharatiya Kisan Union who joined hands for a ”Samyukta Kisan Morcha”.
Delhi Police and paramilitary forces manned the gateway to Delhi at Ghazipur, putting up barricades and equipped with riot gear. Water cannons were also deployed to stop the marching farmers. While on the other side of the border, there is heavy deployment of Uttar Pradesh police along with PAC and RAF.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh witnessed massive protests at district headquarters in several parts of the city where farmers have been not allowed to move to Delhi to participate in general strike. Farmers in Moradabad, Rampur, Shamli, Barabanki, Basti, Sonbhadra sat down on the National Highways amid police presence.
Shayam Singh Chahar from Agra, national president of Kisan Union Savit Malik in Shamli and few other farmers leaders were detained and prevented to go to Delhi to participate in the strike.
"The Yogi government seems determined to hand over the farm sector, too, to a handful of corporate companies by abolishing MSP, to deny the farmers just prices for their agricultural products," Chahar, a farmer leader of Agra told Newsclick.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers are on their way to Delhi and will reach the border by late Thursday night or Friday morning.