Section 144 of the IPC, prohibiting an assembly of more than four people in an area, was imposed in Sikar district on the morning of 1st March. The district witnessed a massive farmers’ resistance movement last September, which was followed by a farmers’ protest march to Jaipur on 22 February this year.
Despite crackdowns and arrests before the march, farmers had organised blockades across the state. The movement led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has been demanding loan waiver and a Minimum Support Price (MSP) as per the MS Swaminathan committee recommendations.
In a state committee meeting on 27 February, the Kisan Sabha had decided to put forward the demands before Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is slated to visit Jhunjhunu on 8 March for International Women’s Day. The imposition of Section 144 is being seen as a move to hamper the plans of the AIKS. This also affects Holi celebrations across the district and has even led to the postponement of the board exams. The exam was scheduled to begin on 8 March.
“The PM in his speeches has made various promises related to the issues that farmers are facing today but has failed to fulfill them,” said Sanjay Madhav, joint secretary of AIKS, Rajasthan, while speaking to Newsclick.
“There is no area in Jaipur that allows public processions and mass protests. They tell us to hold these protests at least 10km away from the city and that only between noon and 4 pm,” he added. Madhav pointed out that religious processions, on the other hand, are given a free hand.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje visited Jhunjhunu on 28 February to oversee preparations for the 8 March programme. Farmers seem to have lost faith in the state machinery after the said visit. However, the peasant body has decided to go ahead with its plans.
Amra Ram, vice president of All India Kisan Sabha, said, “We are going to stick to our plans of meeting Prime Minister Modi. If the state machinery goes against us, we will fight back and all consequences will be the government’s responsibility.”