New Delhi: Taking their protest further, farmers’ organisations on Monday announced that the peasants who had returned to their villages for harvesting the crop would start returning to Delhi’s borders on April 24 this month, marking 150 days of commencement of their movement against the three farm laws.
Addressing a press conference, Ashish Mittal, General Secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, said the move is intended to strengthen the borders to meet any challenge in the wake of reports suggesting that the government may initiate strong action to vacate the protest sites at the entry gates of the national capital.
“The repeated appeals-cum-threats from Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar about vacating the sites are a clear case of intimidation and any such action would invite strong reaction from farmers across the country, Mittal said, adding that the government was creating unnecessary panic about the pandemic only to escape the questions of preparedness missing in last one year.
He said more than 350 farmers had died at the borders and post-mortem reports could not find a single case of infection among the deceased.
The senior farmer leader also announced that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha - a collective of farmers’ unions- would hold a convention of farmers’ organisations on May 10 to chalk out future strategy.
However, the leaders could not specifically reveal the details of the proposed march to Parliament scheduled for the first fortnight of May. “It’s an emerging movement and the situation is evolving every day. We will take the call on the march at a suitable time,” they said.
Gurnam Singh Chaduni, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union Chaduni, a personal statement, had said that the march was cancelled.
Yogendra Yadav, president, Jai Kisan Aandolan, said since the past few days, there were indications that the government was plotting to end the peasant movement on the pretext of the pandemic. "There have been several reports in the media that as soon as the state Assembly elections are over, the Haryana government and the Central government have planned to attack the protest sites and evacuate them in the name of "Operation Clean". To set a context to this nefarious plan, the Union Agriculture Minister and the Chief Minister of Haryana have also appealed for an end to the farmers' protest in the wake of the pandemic, in an obvious drama. The government in fact knows that the protest could have ended long ago, if the fovernment had only fulfilled the legitimate demands of the farmers,” he said.
“If it (the government) thinks it can force the farmers out of borders, it is living in a fool’s paradise. The farmers will hit back hard this time. The whole excuse is of corona now. Let me reiterate that we are more prepared for the pandemic. We are distributing masks, campaigning for checking the prevention and even tied up with hospitals for ambulances in case of emergency. So, it should save its sermons for their own agencies,” Yadav said.
In a statement, the Morcha said,”The ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of BJP governments in combating Corona is now clear for the whole country to see, while the Prime Minister and the Home Minister themselves are busily claiming to have mobilized the largest number of crowds in the Assembly election campaigns at the time of a pandemic. This government has no moral right to advise farmers about the pandemic. SKM condemns the government for spreading fear among the people under the garb of Corona pandemic, for blaming its failures on the general public, imposing fines on them, and giving corporate houses a free waiver of profits at the same time.”
This apart, Rajveer Singh Jadaun, President, Bharatiya Krantikari Union, sought details of persons arrested by the special cell of Delhi Police, who were accused of conspiring to kill the leadership of the Morcha.
”We are reading reports about arrests being made by Delhi Police. We had handed over persons to Haryana Police who accepted that they were devising plans to kill the leadership but the sheer lethargy of its police officials buried the case. We do not want the ame things happening again. Delhi Police should take the lead and release the details about its findings from the investigation,“ he added.