Farmers plan ‘wake-up call’ to government

Farmers will march peacefully to Parliament in May, says Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

Thousands of farmers who have been protesting the three farm reform laws on the borders of Delhi will march to Parliament on foot in the first fortnight of May, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders said on Wednesday. They also plan to block the Western Peripheral Expressway surrounding Delhi for 24 hours on April 10 and 11 as a “wake up call” to the government.

Speaking at a press conference at the Singhu border, SKM leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni emphasised that steps would be taken to ensure that the march to Parliament was peaceful, without any of the confusion, ruckus or violence seen during the tractor parade on Republic Day. A committee would be formed to direct farmers in case of police action, and to prevent any violence or property damage, said Mr. Chaduni, who also heads his own faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Haryana.

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“Apart from farmers, all who have been supporting us, including women, workers and unemployed youth, will also participate in the march. Everyone will come from their villages to the border in their own vehicles, and will then proceed to the Parliament on foot,” he said, adding that the exact date was yet to be decided.

Another SKM leader Santokh Singh said the government had been “sleeping” in the long time since it ended talks with farmers in January. “In order to give a wake-up call to the government, we will block the KMP [Kundli-Manali-Palwal Expressway] from 11 a.m. on April 10 till 11 a.m. on April 11,” he said.

Although their key demands remain the repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee of minimum prices for their crops, SKM leaders also signalled a move to widen their cause. On April 14, they will mark B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary as Save the Constitution Day. “The Preamble of the Constitution says that India is secular and democratic. But this government is neither secular nor democratic,” said SKM leader Prem Singh Bhangu. “You see the kind of tactics which the government has used against us — cutting Internet, power and water, using barricades, arrests, accusing protesters of being Khalistani supporters…Is this not a flouting of democracy?” he asked. Stating that the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to civil liberty, free expression, and protest were under attack, he demanded that oppressive and draconian laws such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act be repealed as well.

Also read | Bharat Bandh hits traffic in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi

The SKM also decided to observe April 5 as ‘FCI Bachao Divas’ by surrounding the offices of the Food Corporation of India across the country. All programmes on Labour Day on May 1 will be dedicated to unity between workers and farmers, they added.

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