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Farm Bills: UP Sees Massive Response to Protest Call; Several Highways Blocked

“If PM Modi is saying MSP will stay, what’s stopping the government from including it in the Bill,” said angry farmers.
Farm Bills Protest in UP

Lucknow: Buses were stopped and several highways blocked briefly in Uttar Pradesh while shops downed shutters in some Northern districts during a protest call by several farmer orgnaisations on Friday against the three controversial farm Bills passed by Parliament by voice vote.

Several farmers' union including Bhartiya Kisan Union, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu group), Mazdoor Kisan Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ambawata), Bhartiya Kisan Sabha and Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha join hands for the nationwide protest call by the All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella of over 250 farmer organisations, demanding the withdrawal of the "anti-people" Bills. 

Hundreds of farmers gathered on a key road in Noida in Uttar Pradesh in a protest demonstration, prompting deployment of police in riot gear that kept them from proceeding toward Delhi. The farmers were at the Noida Gate in Sector 14A near Chilla, at the UP-Delhi border, where they were stopped by the Gautam Buddh Nagar police around 12 noon, officials said.

Farmers under BKU’s banner said the Bills passed during the just-concluded Monsoon session were "anti-farmer" and would serve corporate interests. Several farmers from Meerut, Bijnor, Shravasti, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Shamli, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Haridwar, Shahjahanpur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur joined the protest and blocked several national highways, including the Ayodhya-Lucknow highway, Delhi-Meerut highway and the Agra-Delhi highway.  All vehicular traffic was stopped, except ambulances and other emergency vehicles. 

Farm Bills Protest in UP 1

"We are repeatedly asking the government to include a clause in the Bill stating that minimum support price (MSP) is mandatory and buying below the price will be a legal offence. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi says MSP will stay, what is the big deal about putting it in law?" BKU national spokesperson

Rakesh Tikait told NewsClick, adding that once big corporates and private players enter the market, they will quote their own prices. Why didn’t the government consult any stakeholder before passing the Bills?" he added.

Tikiat said: "A company or any buyer, according to the law, should pay the farmer within three days. But now, this will delay payments. And if the payment is not made within three days, where will the farmer go? Under the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966, payment of cane price has to be made within 14 days of supply. But we know what the actual situation is. Currently, Rs 14,000 crore is due to farmers in outstanding payments."

Various images on social media showed protesters with yellow and green flags sitting on the roadside with placards and hookahs. 

Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch, Uttar Pradesh, told Newsclick that the three agricultural were anti-farmer and anti-labourer, as these would reduce crop prices, the cost of cultivation will be expensive and seed security would be eliminated.

The possibility of government intervention in food security will be eliminated which will give a boost to the corporate sector, Bihari said, adding that government control over food supplies would end and hoarding and black marketing would be encouraged. He said a huge number of farmers in Bahraich, Sitapur, Hardoi and Lakhimpur took part in the protest. 

Demanding withdrawal of the Bills,  Bihari also said: "(The government should) take back the Electricity Act and reduce the price by bringing petrol and diesel under the purview of GST (goods and services tax). Along with this, the demand for strengthening the MNREGA and linking it with agriculture, promotion of cooperative farming and leasing under forest rights will also be raised by Mazdoor Kisan Manch," he added.

At the Delhi-Noida border, around 150 Delhi Police personnel armed with anti-riot equipment ,such as water cannons, tear gas guns and shells were deployed at Chilla to prevent agitating farmers from crossing over to the national capital from Greater Noida, according to PTI. 

Pavan Khatana, BKU state spokesperson and Meerut division president, told NewsClick accused the Central government of “cheating” the farmers.

“There are no measures for farmers to be able to sell their produce at decent rates. The government is promoting capitalism. We demand amendments in the law. The government should at least ensure MSP,” he added.

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