Lucknow: Farmers took out protest marches to the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow on Saturday, June 26, and raised anti-government slogans observing Kheti Bachao, Loktantra Bachao Diwas (Save Agriculture, Save Democracy Day) to mark the completion of seven months of their stir against the three contentious farm laws and 46th year of the imposition of Emergency in India in 1975.
Joining the call given by the Samyukt Kisan Morch (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 protesting farmer unions, over 500 farmers associated with about 21 farmers' organisations including Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha, Kisan Maha Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikkait fraction), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asali), All India Kisan Federation and Mazdoor Kisan Manch from across the state observed the anniversary of Emergency as a period of “undeclared emergency” now, by submitting a memorandum at the Raj Bhavan, seeking withdrawal of the new farm laws and a guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP).
The farmers were stopped near Bapu Bhawan by police personnel who barricaded the protesters as they were moving towards Raj Bhavan, near the OCR building. The farmers sat on the road and started protesting against the administration. However, a delegation of farmers submitted a memorandum to the senior officer, addressed to the President of India, meant to be sent through the Governor.
"With the present regime of executive rules, false cases against activists, journalists, autocratic moves and such other atrocities, this (present day) time is no different from that of the Emergency and worse since it is not a declared one,” Mukut Singh, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), UP chapter who was part of the delegation of farmers, told NewsClick, adding that the farmers handed over the memorandum to the senior officer since Governor Anandiben Patel was in Kanpur to greet President Ram Nath Kovind.
The AIKS leader further said that the farmers in the state are preparing for 'Mission UP' where they will visit every village in poll-bound state, asking people to defeat BJP as elections are the only thing that the party and its leaders seem to understand.
Echoing similar views, BKU vice-president Rajesh Singh Chauhan said, "What we have witnessed in the past seven months reminds us of the Emergency imposed 46 years ago. Today, not only the farmers' movement, the labour movement, student, youth and women's movement, minority society and the movements of dalit and tribal society are also being suppressed, draconian laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and NSA (National Security Act) are being misused to keep the opponents shut. Democracy is being throttled every day without emergency being declared," he said, adding that a group of farmers from eastern Uttar Pradesh will join their counterparts at Ghazipur border.
Meanwhile, keeping in view the farmers’ programme, tight security arrangements had been put in place by the UP Police.
A large number of farmers from adjoining districts including Sitapur, Barabanki, Hardoi, Unnao and Raebareli were supposed to join the march in Lucknow but heavy deployment prevented them from joining the stir. A group of at least 200 farmers from Sitapur district managed to reach Lucknow in the night by train but due to police surveillance on Saturday morning, a huge chunk could not succeed to step out from the places where they spent the night.
“Over 7,000 thousand farmers supposed to assemble in today’s protest in Lucknow but due to lack of communication from farmer leaders and since the district administration was super active in our district, we could not join them,” Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch told NewsClick, adding that the government is very apathetic and that they only understand the electoral loss. Therefore, the farmers have resolve to teach them in their own language in the upcoming elections like they did their job in West Bengal Assembly elections.
Recently, thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh – Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut began their tractor march led by BKU's president Naresh Tikait and it was ended the next day Ghazipur border. The farmers were marching to ensure that the momentum of the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s farm laws stays intact.