Lucknow: After observing 'Black Day' on May 26, protests against the three farm laws have intensified in several districts of western Uttar Pradesh including Moradabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Hapur and Gautam Buddh Nagar. Large number of farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) are picketing highway toll plazas in their respective areas and claim that thousands more will soon arrive to join them.
Blaming the government for ignoring the farmers’ movement despite the fact that they have been protesting at the borders of the national capital for the last six months, the peasants have blocked a toll plaza near NH-58 since May 26 in Meerut, claiming that they will only vacate the spot after BKU national leader Rakesh Tikait’s instructions. Farmers in adjoining district of Muzaffarnagar are sitting on an indefinite strike at the Chapar toll plaza on the Delhi-Doon highway and Rohana toll plaza on the Saharanpur-Delhi highway in the district. They, too, have vowed to continue their movement until withdrawal of three farm laws and a new law on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is enacted.
The BKU supporters and leaders reached toll plazas with an objective to stage the demonstration as part of their plan and to carry out similar protests at some other toll plazas in western Uttar Pradesh. The activists also raised slogans of 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' demanding the withdrawal of the farm laws.
Addressing the protesting farmers at the toll plaza near NH 58, Gaurav Tikait, BKU's youth wing president, reminded that six months have passed since farmers have been protesting against the new farm laws, but the government has turned a blind eye. “About 300 farmers have been martyred in the movement over the last few months. While some have died in accidents or taken their own lives, others have succumbed to the weather or other natural ailments such as heart attacks but the government at the Centre is adamant,” he said adding that their agitation at toll plazas will continue till the three contentious agriculture laws are withdrawn.
Addressing the police personnel who were deployed at the toll plaza to maintain law and order, Gaurav said that they are also sons of farmers, so he requested them to not shoot at the farmers who have been fighting for their rights. "We (farmers) will consider all toll plazas and points on highways as the country's border and fight for our cause from there," he told NewsClick, adding that whichever district and block has toll plaza, farmers will start demonstrations without any delay.
Meanwhile, farmers in Moradabad are on an indefinite strike from Wednesday, May 26. A group of farmers sitting for a dharna at Dalpatpur toll plaza on the Moradabad-Lucknow highway after discussing with senior farmer leaders. BKU's district president Manoj Chaudhary said that they will soon chalk out a strategy to challenge the government which has so far refused to respond to the farmers.
Also read: Six Months of Farmers’ Agitation: Black Day Observed Across Country
“Members of the farmers union are staging protest at five toll plazas in western Uttar Pradesh. These toll plazas are located in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Meerut, Amroha, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Hapur,” BKU state media in-charge Dharmendra Malik told NewsClick.
The sit-in protest started from Meerut on Wednesday after the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions observed May 26 as black day, marking six months of their protest at Delhi's borders against the Centre's three farm laws, as per reports.
'DEFEATING BJP IN UP ELECTION IS ONE OF OUR MISSIONS'
As the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are nearing, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is coordinating the protesting farmers at Ghazipur border and other parts of the state, have decided to
campaign against the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Hannan Mollah, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary, who has been working with the agitating farmers for upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh said that for Assembly elections they have come up with the slogan "punish BJP, defeat BJP" because the Modi government understands only electoral losses. He added that they are planning to revive the kisan mahapanchayats as they had gained huge traction in Purvanchal as well as western UP/
"The farmers' movement has now become everyone’s protest as, during black day, 22 crore individuals hoisted black flags atop houses and vehicles across the country to mark six months of protest. It has never happened in this country’s history that a movement is sustaining for so long. Farmers are so angry, they have already taught a lesson (to the BJP) in the panchayat election and so they will in the Assembly elections too," Mollah told NewsClick, adding that they will not ask farmers to vote for any party as that is the personal choice of the farmers but they will ensure they their vote does not go to BJP.
He further added, "BJP is a fascist government and only wants to impose their ideas, they do not have attitude to listen to its people and farmers. Therefore, farmers will teach them in their own language which they understand better.”
Also read: Ballia Mahapanchayat: Thousands of Farmers Gather in Mahapanchayat in Eastern UP
When asked about the strategy and plan for "mission UP", the farmer leader said that there is a need to evolve the protest as it cannot survive only on Delhi's borders. “It should be a pan India movement, only then the farmers’ protests can survive. We will continue our movement by engaging our farmers by organising mahapanchayat, black day, burning copies of the act, cultural events, etc. We will also connect to farmers in rural areas who do not have an idea how the government has betrayed them," he said.
On June 5, the farmers have decided to burn copies of three farm Acts outside the residences of MPs and MLAs of the BJP at every district headquarter, he added.
Meanwhile, the recent panchayat election results in UP where the ruling BJP faced defeat even in its bastions in Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Ayodhya, seems to have encouraged the farmer leaders.
Echoing similar views, Rakesh Tikait told NewsClick that the government should not be have any misconception that they can silence the voice of the farmers.
"The UP government may have sensed it from the local panchayat elections results and must understand how the wind this time is totally against the ruling party, mainly in West UP. A huge chunk of farmers had earlier voted for BJP but this is not going to happen in the upcoming Assembly elections as they (the ruling party) understand only election and defeat," the BKU leader told NewsClick.