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Farmer Leaders Call Modi’s Mann ki Baat an Insult, Protests Draw Solidarity from Mass Groups

Among those who have come forward in support of farmers with an action plan included taxi and transport unions, arhtiya (commission agents) associations and khap panchayats in Haryana.
Farmers attending a public meeting at Singhu border on Monday. Image clicked by Mukund Jha

Farmers attending a public meeting at Singhu border on Monday. Image clicked by Mukund Jha

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extolled the new farm legislations in his monthly radio broadcast – Mann ki Baat – protesting farmer leaders called his address an “insult” to the hopes of the farmers who were expecting the Centre to finally make a “sincere effort” in addressing their grievances.

More and more farmers from nearby states are expected to reach Delhi in the days to come to join the protests, the leaders of farmers’ bodies from Punjab and Haryana, claimed in a press conference held on Monday (November 30) at Delhi-Haryana Singhu Border. The conference was called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a coming together of prominent farmers’ unions, to lead the ongoing farmers’ agitation in the national capital.

In a bid to intensify the agitation, All India Kisan Coordination Sangharsh Committee (AIKSCC), which is a constituent of the Kisan Morcha, has also given a call to hold joint protests by mass organisations across the country under the campaign namely, “Ham Kisano ke Saaath”.

The umbrella body of over 250 farmers’ bodies said in a press statement on Monday that the campaign will include rallies and demonstrations in the countryside, along with sit-in protests in urban areas, potentially at toll plazas, petrol pumps and malls belonging to the corporate houses – Reliance and Adani – among others.

Farmers led by 30 unions from Punjab and one prominent union from Haryana are currently staying put at Delhi’s northern Singhu border, on the arterial GT Karnal highway, and at the Tikri border, near West Delhi’s Mundka village. The Ghazipur border connecting Uttar Pradesh with the national capital has also been partially sealed by the police to stop the marching farmers amassed there.

The farmers’ groups have already announced their plan to block the five highway entry points into Delhi, while rejecting the Centre’s offer to shift the protest to a ground in Burari in exchange for “early talks”.

Farm leaders addressing the media in a press conference on Monday. Image clicked by Mukund Jha

Farm leaders addressing the media in a press conference on Monday. Image clicked by Mukund Jha

On Monday, the farmers’ leaders stressed that the protests are not just restricted only to two states, but have now snowballed into a nationwide agitation. Yogendra Yadav, national working committee member, AIKSCC, said: “The farmers from Punjab have obviously taken a lead in the agitation… but the protests today have taken a shape of a nationwide struggle.”

He added that farmers’ leaders from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and other states are taking crucial role in the protests, which carries nothing but one demand: repealing of the three farm laws, along with withdrawal of the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act.

Gurnam Singh Charuni, who presides over Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni), the farmers’ union based in Haryana, said that till now more that 31 cases have been registered against the protesting farmers in his state, and even then the participation of farmers in demonstrations continues to grow.

“This law is not only against the farmers of the country but also against the common people,” Charuni, who is also among the leadership of the Kisan Morcha, told the media.

Monday's press conference also expressed concerns that the current agitation, being led by a united leadership of farmers’ organisations from across the country, won’t be welcomed by the ruling dispensation, which had maintained till now that the protests are being staged in only two states and that even they are “politically-motivated.”

Also read: ‘Delhi Chalo’: The Anatomy of a Well-Organised Protest at Singhu Border

Interestingly, PM Modi’s address to farmers on Sunday stressed that the agriculture reforms will bring in new opportunities. The appeals, however, don’t seem to be going well with the farmers, who appear to dig in their heels.

Meanwhile, the protesting farmers are not alone, with solidarity pouring in from various ends. A joint group of transport and taxi unions in the national capital has given a “two-day ultimatum” to the Centre before going on an indefinite strike, in support of the farmers’ demands, NewsClick has learnt.

The Arhtiya (commission agents) association in the state of Haryana has also given a call to observe state-wide strike at mandis on Tuesday, December 1. “The arhtiyas from nearby areas will be visiting Tikri and Singhu border points tomorrow, carrying with them ration and other essential stock for the protesting farmers,” Harsh Girdhar, vice president of the Haryana Arhtiya Association, told NewsClick over phone.

Ishwar Singh Nain, a khap leader, said that in a meeting that saw participation of over 100 khap panchayats in Haryana, it was decided to join the farmers in their protests at Delhi border points. “We will start from our respective districts tomorrow (Tuesday) and will march to Singhur, Tikri, Badarpur and Gurugram,” he said.

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