Farmers’ bodies in India are gearing up for road blockades in the days to come as part of their intensified struggle against the controversial farm legislations that are feared to do away with crop support prices.
Discussions are underway among the farmer leaders to ensure that blockades or “chakka jam” are observed across the country with similar vigour as in Punjab and Haryana – the two states that have been at the forefront of the farmers’ stir.
This is also crucial, the leaders admit, to sustain the movement.
“We have given a chakka jam call for November 3 to protest against the farm bills. As part of it, farmers will block national highways for six hours – from 10 AM to 4 PM – on that day across the country,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) (Charuni) president Gurnam Singh Charuni told NewsClick on Friday (October 9).
The decision, Charuni informed, was taken in a meeting held a day earlier which was attended by farmers’ groups from across eight states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh among others.
He, however, added that the date could change as November 3 is also the date of polling of Phase 2 of the upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar. “We don’t want to create any inconvenience in the election processes,” he said.
Yudhvir Singh, national secretary, BKU told NewsClick that the demonstrations across the country will ensure that more farmers join to protest against the anti-farmer bills. “It will help in spreading awareness among large section about what we are demanding from the government. It will also ensure that the current farmers’ stir doesn’t get restricted only to Punjab and Haryana,” he said.
The countrywide road blockade call comes at a time when round-the-clock agitations are running in both the states.
An indefinite dharna has now begun at Shahid Bhagat Singh Stadium in Haryana’s Barnala road and near the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and his uncle Ranjit Chautala, who is also Power and Prisons Minister in the state, at Sirsa.
Also read: Haryana: Farmers’ Put BJP Ally in Tough Spot Over Support to Agri Reforms
The two demonstrations were called in the aftermath of police action – involving baton charge, water canon and use of tear gas – against the farmers who had rallied earlier this week to gherao the two Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) leaders’ house. Demanding their resignations from the JJP-BJP coalition government in the state, around 70 people, including Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav, were subsequently detained as well on Wednesday. They were released after nine hours on the same day.
In the neighbouring state Punjab, farmers led by Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have been squatting on rail tracks since September 24 in at least two major spots leading to suspension of train operations in the state.
“The unions in Punjab will meet tomorrow (Saturday) to decide whether the ‘rail roko’ protest has to be continued or not,” Committee president, Satnam Singh Pannu, said over phone from Basti Tanka wala in Ferozpur, one of the protest sites. Currently, as he added, the agitation is called till October 11.
On Friday, along with this, farmers in Punjab under the banner of various organisations also took to streets to condemn the recent attack on their co-protesters in Haryana. The farmers reportedly burnt effigies of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a coming together of 250 farmers’ organisations from across the nation, has called for a march to the national capital on November 26 and 27.
A meeting, called by the umbrella body, has been scheduled at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi on October 11 to coordinate farmers’ movements in India.
Also read: Farm Bills: UP Sees Massive Response to Protest Call; Several Highways Blocked