Workers, women, students, and concerned citizens gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Monday to hold a protest demonstration extending solidarity to the country-wide call for Bharat Bandh marking ten months of the farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws, among other things. The Bharat Bandh call, given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, is being backed by a majority of opposition parties, trade unions, employees’ federations, students, youth and women organisations.
The protesters at the demonstration organised by trade unions including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), raised slogans highlighting their demands. They reiterated the demands that the farmers across India have been raising for the past nine months under the leadership of the SKM—repealing of the three farm laws, withdrawal of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2021 and legally guaranteed Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops.
Speaking to NewsClick, Anurag Saxena, General Secretary of CITU Delhi, said, “Under democracy, governments function with mutual consultations and open dialogues. If a large section of the population in a country are facing difficulties, then it is the responsibility of the Union government to talk to those people, and solve their issues. But our government has not talked to the farmers since January, 2021.”
Saxena added that the government has also not paid any heed to the suggestions put forward by trade unions about the Labour Codes. He said that the workers are simultaneously extending their support for the farmers, and also raising the issues that the workers themselves have been facing under the regime of the current Union government. “Today’s Bharat Bandh is a result of the government’s apathy towards the poor, and the issues plaguing the lives of farmers, workers, students, and women. It had to come to this because of the indifference of the Union government,” he said.
Maimoona Mollah from the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) told NewsClick, “The Union government is making laws that will result in deaths of the poorest citizens of the country, while the rich keep getting richer. It is important that we raise our voices now. And in a democracy, everyone has a right to raise their voices. However, the government refuses to listen. This is why the farmers have been sitting outside Delhi for almost a year now, but the government is not even letting them enter the city. What will these people do? They will again and again organise protests like this, strikes like this, and force the government to listen to them. This is why we are here today.”
A large number of police personnel were present at the protest venue. The usual protest site at Jantar Mantar had been barricaded, making sure that no one could enter the area. Hence, the demonstration was held in front of the Parliament Street Police Station bus stand.
The police personnel peered from behind the yellow barricades as the protesters raised slogans demanding that the Union government repeals the draconian farm laws. The protesters reiterated that it is time the government started listening to the issues being faced by the citizens of the country and take necessary actions.