Farmers' protests near Delhi borders set to intensify as the deadlock over new agricultural laws continues, the Supreme Court expresses disappointment over "no improvement in situation at all." Chief Justice SA Bobde, while hearing a petition challenging the laws, said the top court's "intention was to encourage talks" between the government and the protesting farmers. Meanwhile, the protest by farmers camping at the borders of the national capital continued for the 42nd day. The leaders of the farmer’s unions demanding the repeal of the three new farm laws and the procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) are readying for a 'Tractor March' announced by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways on Thursday.
Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Punjab farmer leader and General Secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), said preparations were on to intensify the agitation and make the programme on Thursday a success. He informed that farmers from Punjab are coming with their tractors for the march. Farmers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are also joining the rally.
Farmer leaders said the ‘Tractor March’ would be a trailer of the ‘Republic Day Parade’ scheduled on January 26.
After the seventh round of talks with the Central government on Monday remained inconclusive, the farmers decided to take out a ‘Tractor March’ on January 7. Earlier the Samyukta Kisan Morcha had scheduled the rally for January 6 but due to the bad weather forecast the march was postponed to January 7.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has also announced a public awareness campaign as well as several other programmes from January 6 to January 20.
The SKM said the death anniversary of Sir Chhotu Ram will be observed on January 9. Sir Chhotu Ram is remembered as a farmer leader. After this, the farmers will celebrate Lohri on January 13 and Makar Sankranti on January 14 as ‘Sankalp Diwas’.
Withdrawal of The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 enacted by the Central government and the legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price is being demanded by the farmers, who have been camping at the borders of Delhi since November 26, 2020.
After the seventh round of talks between the farmers-Central government failed to arrive at a consensus on Monday, the next round of talks has been fixed for January 8.
The Supreme Court expressed concern over the ongoing farmers’ protest against the recently enacted three farm laws at various Delhi borders.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde told Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta and Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal, representing the Centre, “There is absolutely no improvement in the situation.”
Mehta submitted that the Centre is in discussion with the farmers to resolve their issues with the laws and since healthy talks are going on between the farmers and Centre, it would not be advisable to take up the matters immediately.
The AG said filing of response by the Centre may close avenues of negotiations underway between the farmers and Centre.
Venugopal added that there is a possibility that parties involved in discussion may come to a conclusion in the near future.
The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian agreed with AG and SG submissions, and said if it is told on Monday (January 11) that discussions are still underway, then it would adjourn the hearing.
“We understand the situation. We want to encourage the talks. We will keep matter on Monday and will adjourn if you say so”, said the Chief Justice.
The farmers’ protest against the three farm laws has been going on for more than a month.
The observations from the top court came during the hearing on a petition filed by advocate M.L. Sharma who challenged a 1954 amendment to the Constitution for putting agriculture in the concurrent list, which permitted the Centre to enact the farm laws. The top court issued notice on Sharma’s plea.
Keeping in view the tractor rally planned by the farmers’ unions on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway on Thursday, the Gurugram Police have already intensified their security arrangements on the KMP as well as the border areas of the district.
The farmers decided to hold tractor rally on KMP expressway on January 6 but due to heavy downpour they had postponed it to January 7.
According to the police, the KMP expressway was largely unaffected by the farmers protests till now but on Thursday the demonstrating farmers could hamper the traffic movement on the expressway too.
The police inputs also disclosed that the farmers can take Nuh, Farrukhnagar, Manesar and Badli in Jhajjar district entry points to reach the KMP.
“We have also enhanced our security arrangements at the border points in view of ongoing farmers’ demonstrations. We have issued an advisory to all the concerned officials to take necessary precautionary measures in view of blocking the expressway and tractor rally,” said Subhash Boken, spokesperson of the Gurugram police.
Haryana Police have installed barricades at four locations on the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway to stop farmers from entering the national capital, resulting in blockages on the national highway.
These four key locations include Kapdiwas Chowk in Gurugram, Masani barrage in Dharuhera, Sangwari village in Rewari and Jaisinghpur Khera (Haryana-Rajasthan border) on the Delhi-Jaipur national highway.
With these blockages which resulted in traffic diversions on the expressway, the commuters going from Jaipur to Delhi and Delhi to Jaipur have to cover an extra 100 kms to reach their destination.
Meanwhile, the police have diverted Jaipur-bound vehicles from Bilaspur, Kapriwas and Sidhrawali and Shahpura. Delhi-bound vehicles were diverted from Kotputli and Behror.
The Gurugram police have also set up barricades at Kapdiwas Chowk (Gurugram-Rewari border) after the clash between farmers and the police on Sunday.
With the NH-48 already blocked, heavy traffic movement is being seen on the alternative routes, like Pataudi Road and Kapdiwas Chowk in Gurugram, Bhiwadi in Rajasthan and Masani barrage in Rewari.
Following Sunday’s incident in which a group of farmers had breached police barricades and enter Bawal in Rewari with the intention of marching towards the national capital, the Haryana police along with CRPF, CISF, RAF and anti-riot team have been stationed on the Sabi flyover in Dharuhera located on the expressway to keep an eye on farmers protesting on the highway.
Meanwhile, hundreds of commercial vehicles including many container trucks are facing traffic hurdles between Kapdiwas and Masani barrage in Rewari for the last two days, though private and light commercial vehicles headed towards Jaipur are being diverted by the Rewari police towards Bhiwadi at Kapdiwas Chowk.
According to the police, over 2,000 farmers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana and members of trade unions have gathered at Shahjahanpur (Haryana-Rajasthan border) on the national highway in support of farmers’ demonstration since December 13.
On December 29, farmers had broken the barricades at Shahjahanpur and they had entered Rewari on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, crossing the Shahjahanpur inter-state border in Rajasthan, as the police were not letting them enter Haryana.
“We are in touch with the adjoining districts to manage and control the situation and keep vigil on protesting farmers in Rewari. We have also deployed police personnel in Dharuhera and other protesting sites. In view of the current situation, we have diverted the traffic so that commuters do not face any inconvenience,” said Abhishek Jorwal, superintendent of police (Rewari).
Though both carriageways of the Delhi-Jaipur expressway were blocked at Shahjahanpur border since December 29, the Rewari Police installed containers and put up barricades near Masani barrage in Dharuhera on Sunday evening to stop farmers’ movement towards Delhi.
“Due to this clash between police and farmers the supply of essential things such as milk, vegetables was also hit for families staying in a group residential societies in Dharuhera located between Kapdiwas Chowk and Masani barrage,” said a member of Dharuhera-based RWA.
Aman of Alwar, a daily passenger, who was waiting for a bus at Gurugram’s Rajiv Chowk said, “Before the farmers’ stir a number of buses were available heading towards Rajasthan but now a few buses are heading towards Rajasthan and those who are running are asking extra fare due to route diversion”.
“We have alerted all senior officials and their teams, and Bilaspur and Manesar police teams are already on alert. Barricades have been put up and extra force has been deployed at all the border points connecting Haryana with other states,” K.K. Rao, commissioner of police, said.
“We don’t want any confrontation with the police. We are here for our rights and our demonstration against the three agricultural laws will continue till they are rolled back. We will discuss our future course of action after meeting with other union members,” said a member of Samyukt Kisan Morcha. (IANS)