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SKM Chakka Jam: Flaying Centre’s ‘Betrayal’, Farmers Block Roads, Rail Tracks

The SKM warned that unless the promised demands of the farmers are not fulfilled, the farm movement will only “be intensified in the coming months”.

Farmers block rail tracks at Punjab’s Jalandhar railway station. Image Courtesy: Kisan Ekta Morcha/Facebook 

New Delhi: Following a call by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) to observe ‘Protest Against Betrayal’, the two-week campaign ended, with farmers blocking roads and rail tracks for four hours in several states, on Sunday. 

Under the campaign, public meetings were organised in 500 districts across the country to demonstrate against the Centre for “reneging on the written promises,” on the basis of which the year-long agitation was withdrawn last year. The SKM warned that unless the promised demands of the farmers are not fulfilled, the farm movement will only “be intensified in the coming months.”

The farmers are demanding a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for all produce based on the C2+50% formula, among others, added the umbrella group that had spearheaded the movement for the withdrawal of the three contentious farm legislations.

In a statement, the SKM said that “widespread protest demonstrations and Chakka Jam” were held on Sunday in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Tripura, among other states.

“Tens of thousands of farmers came together to protest against the betrayal by the Union Government,” the morcha added.

In Punjab, farmers squatted down on rail tracks from 11 am to 3 pm at over 40 locations across the state, along with staging road blockades at other protest spots, NewsClick was told. Across the country, according to farmer leaders, Sunday’s demonstration was staged at over 1200 different locations.

The SKM, in its statement, noted that the Narendra Modi-led central government has not fulfilled any of the promises made to the farmers’ organisation in its letter dated December 9, 2021.

“The government is still not ready to discuss the legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP). The Cabinet is reported to have approved the Electricity Amendment Bill for placing in Parliament. Nor have the false cases registered against the farmers been withdrawn. Ajay Mishra Teni remains in the Union Council of Ministers even today,” the morcha remarked.

It further reiterated its “six demands” which include, a legal guarantee of MSP, withdrawal of draft Electricity Amendment Bill, removal of the penal provisions on farmers over burning of crops, withdrawal of false cases against the farmers over the course of last year’s agitation, dismissal and arrest of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni, and compensation and rehabilitation of the families whose members died during the protests along with an allocation of land to build a memorial at Delhi’s Singhu border.

“Farmers in the country are very angry with the Union government for not fulfilling its promises even after nine months have passed,” SKM member and All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah told NewsClick in a telephone interview on Sunday. He added that the SKM will continue to oppose the recently formed committee on MSP as its terms of reference do not mention one of the farmers’ organisation's key demands.

Earlier this month, the Centre had notified the formation of a 29-member panel to make MSP more “effective and transparent.” Along with naming a former agriculture secretary, NITI Aayog member, economists, and representatives of farmers’ unions in the country, to be members of the committee, the Centre had also invited three members from SKM.

Questioning the composition of the committee, the latter, however, had decided not to join the panel.

“What’s the point of joining such a panel, whose chairman is someone who drafted all the three farm laws? He is then accompanied by all those who supported such reforms,” Mollah argued, adding, “Even the terms of reference are very clear in the sense that it doesn’t mention legal guarantee on MSP, which is our key demand”.

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) member Avik Saha on Sunday underscored that the farmers will continue with their agitation across the country. 

“Since July 18, public meetings were held at about 500 districts in the country to revive the memory of the last year’s farmer agitation and the result of the campaign was that today road blockades were staged at about 1200 locations across the country,” he said, highlighting that the next action programme of SKM will be organised in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, where a 75-hour long “permanent morcha” will be set up from August 18. 

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda general secretary Jagmohan Singh Patiala, while speaking from Patiala, said, “People came out on streets in large numbers from across Punjab to observe Chakka Jam including in Amritsar, Mansa, Ferozpur and Sangrur districts. It shows that the farmers’ movement has not dissipated as yet.”

“All the major trains arriving in Punjab from Delhi were affected on Sunday as farmers blocked railway tracks for four hours at over 40 locations,” Shingara Mann Singh, BKU Ekta Ugrahan leader, informed Newsclick while speaking from Bathinda.

In Haryana, AIKS leader Inderjit Singh said that even as roads were not blocked on large scale, due to Teej celebrations, public meetings were held at numerous sites on Sunday. 

He added that the farmers’ organisations, along with ex-servicemen committees and students’ organisations, will now hold ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ conventions across the country including in Haryana between August 7 and August 14 to expose the Agnipath scheme.

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