Farmers agitating against the three farm laws pushed through Parliament in September will gather at the three protest sites at Delhi’s borders and urged people to hoist black flags in their support on Wednesday, when their agitation completes six months.The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a collective of around 30 farmers’ unions, also decided to carry demonstrations, although the Delhi police said no permission has been given for a protest or a rally and appealed to the protesters to take care of law and order, and observe Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Experts have warned that any such gathering could become a superspreader event, particularly at a time when cases are receding within the Capital after a devastating few weeks and a tough lockdown.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the SKM said the farmers’ unions across the country will observe a “Black Day”.
“Tomorrow, on Buddha Poornima, at the protest sites at Delhi borders also as in other locations across the country, farmers will celebrate the religious holiday . This farmer’s movement is running on truth and non-violence, and can be completing 6 months of its historical struggle tomorrow,” the SKM said within the statement.Thousands of farmers are camping at Delhi’s borders at Singhu, Ghazipur, and Tikri, since November to press the govt into repealing the new laws, which they assert will erode their bargaining power, weaken a system of assured prices, and leave them susceptible to exploitation by big agri businesses.
Farm leaders have also asked people to don black clothes to point out support for the agitation. “Demonstrations should even be held within the chaurahas with sloganeering. Farmers said that by putting black flags on houses, shops, offices, tractors, cars, jeeps, scooters, motorcycles, buses and trucks, citizens should oppose the three agricultural laws, the Electricity Amendment Bill and therefore the Pollution Ordinance,” the SKM statement said.
The development has come every week after the farm unions urged the Centre to resume talks, asserting that the discussion would need to be about repealing the new farm laws. So far, the govt has held 11 rounds of discussions but none have did not break the deadlock.The government has said that the laws aim to ease restrictions on farm trade by fixing free markets, allow traders to stockpile large stocks for future sales, and lay down a framework for contract farming.
Additional police personnel are deployed at the bordersto steel oneself against Wednesday, Delhi police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said.
The continuous rain within the Capital last week, and therefore the deadly second wave of the pandemic since March, have led to a thinning of the numbers at the protest sites. But, the farmers said they’re going to continue the agitation till their demands are met.
Gurjant Singh, 36, a farmer from Punjab’s Mohali district, who has been protesting at the Singhu border said, “Though the keenness among the protesters who only joined us occassionally has ebbed a touch , those fighting for his or her land and livelihood are still here.”SKM’s media coordinator, Harinder Singh, said that the organisers have taken several steps to arrest the spread of the virus at the protest sites. “We even put up the audio system [loudspeakers] closer to the trolleys across protest sites in order that farmers wouldn’t need to come towards the stage to concentrate to the speeches. We invited doctors to talk on stage and educate the farmers on precautions, symptoms and Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he said.