Indian farmers roll into Delhi border on tractors in large numbers to mark a year of protests against farm laws

Farmers say protest will continue until all demands are met by tModi government

Shweta Sharma
Friday 26 November 2021 12:30
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<p>Farmers gather to mark the first anniversary of their protests at the Singhu border</p>

Farmers gather to mark the first anniversary of their protests at the Singhu border

A protest site on the border of India’s national capital of Delhi came to life on Friday with dance, music, song and prayer, as hundreds of farmers arrived there to mark a year of protests that ended in their victory.

Men and women rolled in on Friday from all across the country in huge cavalcades of vehicles, waving flags, at the Delhi border region of Singhu — the seat of a year of agitation — to mark the anniversary of the protests demanding repeal of three farm laws passed by the prime minister Narendra Modi-led government.

Security arrangements were beefed up by the Delhi police on various border points to keep the situation under control.

In a rare show of retreat for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, Mr Modi announced last week that the three laws will be scrapped in the winter parliamentary session – a move seen as strategic and political ahead of elections in key states.

Since Thursday’s nightfall, hundreds of farmers have been marching towards capital Delhi in tractors, jeeps and cars, dancing and singing, to reinforce the protests and celebrate the government move.

Music blared at the protest site as people arrived following a call of “Delhi chalo” (walk to Delhi) by farmers on 26 November with demands to get the farm laws repealed and a promised legislation to ensure state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all produce, not just rice and wheat.

"Farmers from across the country have reached the campsites to celebrate one year of our historic protest," said Rakesh Tikait, a prominent leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of the largest farmers’ unions.

The backtrack by the Modi government came after one year of unabated protests and after nearly 700 farmers lost their lives during the agitation.

Farmers’ unions have said the protest will continue, but have welcomed the government action. The farmers said they will wait for the laws to be formally repealed through parliamentary procedure and asked the government to meet their demand of MSP.

"We thank the government for its decision to repeal the laws, but our protest will continue until there’s a decision on MSPs for all crops. We also demand a committee that should look into our other demands like taking back legal cases against the farmers,” Mr Tikait said.

Police have tightened the security around the border areas with fresh deployment of police and paramilitary forces.

“Adequate security deployment has been made and there will be close supervision by senior police officers on the ground. We are using professional policing to avoid any untoward incident," said Dependra Pathak, senior commissioner of police.

Amid the celebration, people also gathered to hold prayers for those who lost their lives during the year-long protest.

Farmers unions have said they will block highways in Karnataka while in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh trade unions said they will stage demonstrations at district headquarters.

Tractor rallies will also be carried out in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal.

The farm laws whipped up massive protests amid fears that they would leave them at the best of big corporations that close the current government and ultimately withdraw the fixed fee they receive for goods, the minimum support price.

However, the government had insisted throughout that the protest period that the laws would empower farmers and were presented as biggest reforms in the archaic farming system.

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