Farm laws: 200 farmers leave from Singhu border to protest at Jantar Mantar
Two hundred farmers agitating against the Centre’s new agriculture laws left from Singhu border to hold protests in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Thursday. The farmers have decided to hold a “kisan parliament [farmers’ parliament]”, parallel to the ongoing Monsoon Session.The buses ferrying the farmers were stopped by the Delhi Police at the city’s border for the purpose of checking their identity cards. They will be allowed to move after the verification process is completed, NDTV reported.The protests will be held every day till August 9, between 11 am to 5 pm, at Jantar Mantar which is located a few metres away from the Parliament, PTI reported.The protesting farmers have been asked to provide an undertaking declaring that they will follow Covid-19 norms and that the demonstrations will be peaceful. Only those farmers who have identity cards will be permitted at the protest site.Thousands of farmers have been camping outside Delhi since November, demanding that the central government repeal the three new laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies.Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, one of the most prominent faces of the agitation, will also protest at Jantar Mantar on Thursday, he told ANI. Speaking to the news agency, he said that the farmers will monitor proceedings of the House and hold their own “parliament sessions” at the protest site.“Farmers have issued a whip to the parliamentarians,” Yogendra Yadav, one of the union leaders, told NDTV on Thursday morning. “We are going their to keep a vigil...We are going there to discuss an issue which has been discussed in the Parliaments of United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada, but not in India.”Ahead of the planned demonstrations in Delhi on Thursday, security at Jantar Mantar has been tightened. The authorities have deployed police and paramilitary personnel.“Apart from this, anti-riot force, water cannons and tear gas are on standby to make all efforts to stop the anti-social elements among the farmers from crossing over into Delhi forcefully, similar to what happened on Republic Day this year,” said an official.This is the second time in eight months since the farmers’ agitation began that such demonstrations will be held in the Capital. The last one was on January 26. However, violence had erupted during the tractor rally on Republic Day. One person was killed and over 300 police officers were injured during the rally.The police and the government clamped down on the farmers’ agitation after the violence. Barricades were erected at protest sites and internet services were suspended. Hundreds of protestors were arrested.“Our protest will be peaceful,” said All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Mollah. “A rumour is being spread that farmers are going to lay a siege. It’s all false. This kind of protest is held at Parliament Street [at Jantar Mantar]. Nobody [protesting farmers] will go to Parliament.”The farmers fear the central government laws will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislations are pro-farmer.In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.