The farmers’ organisations on Wednesday, March 31, announced that the protesters agitating against the three contentious farm laws will be marching towards Parliament on foot in the first week of May after staging their protest for more than four months at the entry gates of the national capital.
The date for the march, however, remains undecided as the plan still needs to be fixed to avoid any tussle and mishap of the sort that was witnessed during the Republic Day March on January 26. Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) said that they are inviting people from across the country to be part of the march as the government has tested their patience enough.
He added, “It is already more than two months since the Centre stopped its talks with farmers’ organisations which amply clarified that it has nothing to offer either on repealing the laws or assuring the minimum support price. Thus, it is our last resort. I reiterate that the march will be peaceful and the people will be walking on foot only.”
Apart from the major announcement, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha- a collective of farmers’ unions- said that the farmers in 736 districts of the country will be staging protest at the offices of Food Corporation of India. Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All India Kisan Federation said, “FCI - the nodal food procurement agency - has back tracked on the recommendations it furthered on the issue of level of moisture, foreign particles but it is non- committal on producing the documents of land registration. It simply means that they are running away from their responsibilities of procurement.”
A committee headed by the chairman and managing director of FCI Sanjiv Kumar recommended that wheat would be procured only if the produce has 12% moisture and foreign matter should be below 0.50%.
Boota Singh Burjgill from BKU Dakaunda said that the farmers’ unions have also reached a consensus on stopping the traffic at Kurukshetra Manesar Palwal Highway for 24 hours on April 10. “We keep organising blockades to wake the government from its slumber. We are stopping at this highway as a last warning to the people sitting in power,” Burjgill added.
Addressing the press conference, Satnam Singh Ajnala from Kirti Kisan Union said that the unions have decided to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi at all borders. In Punjab, Baisakhi is celebrated on April 13 every year when farmers harvest their crops. Secondly, the festival is auspicious for the followers of Sikh belief as the tenth guru, Guru Govind Singh founded the Khalsa panth (tradition) on April 13, 1699, in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.
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“By establishing the Khalsa, the tenth guru advocated a caste free society which also despises religious persecution and discrimination. We aspire that the unity of farmers and workers will build such society. Thus, we will be also celebrating the day at all borders with full fervour,” he said.
Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All India Kisan Federation said that the front will be celebrating April 14 – the birthday of social reformer, advocate and scholar Dr B R Ambedkar as ‘Save Farmers, Save Constitution Day’.
“Our constitution envisages secularism and democracy as the basic tenets to be followed by the government. Both these principles are under attack from the current regime. We know how they butchered secularism in Jammu and Kashmir when they abrogated Article 370. Similarly, all dissenting people are met with the threats of arrests, slapped with sedition, charges of UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act). Thus, we demand that all draconian provisions like Article 126 A, UAPA, Article 356 which enables the Centre to dismantle an elected government and Article 368 which gives government immense power to draft any legislation be removed. Since Ambedkar too aspired for a casteless society, the main stage will be managed by the people from the bahujan community.”
More importantly, the unions also announced that they will be inviting the central trade unions to celebrate May Day at all borders together.
The front in a press statement said, “As part of the Mitti Satyagraha Yatra, farmers were handed over the soil in Dandi, which was collected from 100 villages and in Bardoli, which was collected from 50 villages. The yatra was welcomed in Umrachi. Farmers said that the Modi government wants to snatch the soil (land) of the farmers and hand it over to the capitalists. This yatra is being taken out against it. During the farmers’ movement, more than 320 farmers have been martyred to save the soil of the country. This yatra has taken inspiration from Gandhiji to memorialise him by making a martyr's memorial.”
The statement added that the yatra was stopped by the Gujarat Police in Umrachi.
Also read: Farmers’ Press Conference in Ahmedabad Stopped by Police, Leaders Detained