Lucknow: Intensifying their protest against the Centre’s new agriculture laws after talks with the government proved to be ‘inconclusive’, farmers across Western Uttar Pradesh hit the road on Monday, including in the state capital Lucknow.
As part of the protest, farmers gathered at the district headquarter under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and handed over a memorandum to the district magistrate. They also observed a one-day hunger strike from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.
Across the state, thousands of protesting farmers assembled at various places to demand repeal of the new farm laws passed by Parliament in September, despite heavy security deployment at various entry points, leading to some scuffles with the police.
Riding tractors and trolleys, the protesting farmers broke multi-layered cemented barricades erected by UP Police in Bijnor, Shamli and Saharanpur district and marched toward the collectorate. In some places, police used batons as well as water cannons to disperse them.
"The Yogi (Adityanath) government is using baton and water cannon on farmers who were going to hand over the memorandum against the agri laws. They (the govt) are mistaken if they think that will weaken our courage. Western Uttar Pradesh is the land of farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait and we know how to bring the government to its knees," a farmer leader from Meerut told Newsclick.
Meanwhile, BKU supporters, led by Rakesh Tikait, who have been staging protests at the Delhi-Ghazipur border since November 28, were joined by farmers from Uttarakhand and Western UP. The protesting farmers on December 3 blocked the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway of NH-9. On Monday, they observed a day-long hunger strike and took part in a demonstration blocking Meerut expressway.
Tikait said the number of farmers at the Ghazipur border was increasing despite cold weather conditions. "Gradually, the population of farmers is increasing at the Ghazipur border, where earlier there used to be only two to three tents. Today, there are at least eight to 10 tents at the protest site and there is no lack of food supply. Farmers from different parts of state are coming to join protest," he said.
Alleging that the Central government was working in favour of the corporate sector, the BKU leader further stated: "The farmers are here with full preparation to stay. The completion of the construction of godowns before the laws were passed shows that the plan is something else. The farmers' name is on the files and inside the files, the documents belong to traders. This will not go on in India," Tikait said.
Meanwhile, extending support to the one-day fast, Samajwadi Party (SP) workers staged protests in different districts, and were taken into custody by the police. The SP workers were stopped from going toward the District Collectorate, Lucknow.
"Samajwadi Party supports the demands of farmers, and its sympathy is with farmers. The kisan yatra was started by the SP on December 7. On December 14, the party workers are holding dharna at all the district headquarters in the state. I have been arrested in Sandila (in Hardoi district), and many party leaders are under house arrest," SP MLC Rajpal Kashyap told PTI.
Meanwhile, facing unprecedented pressure from protesting farmers, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said it would organise farmers' meets at various places in Uttar Pradesh to “create awareness” about agriculture sector reforms, prompting the agitating farmers to accuse the government of creating a divide amongst them.