Protesting farmers marked the completion of seven months of their agitation against the three contentious farm legislations on Saturday, June 26, and submitted memorandums to the respective Governors.
Farmers from Punjab faced water cannons when they broke police barricades in Chandigarh and marched close to the Governor House.
In adjoining Panchkula, protestors from Haryana stopped when they were denied entry into Chandigarh. Leading the protest in Panchkula, the chief of Haryana unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Gurnam Singh Charuni, had appealed followers to maintain peace and stop if prohibited from entering Chandigarh.
The joint platform of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) had announced to observe Saturday as ‘Save Agriculture, Save Democracy day’ which coincides with the 47th anniversary of imposition of ‘Emergency’.
SKM had announced earlier that leaders would submit a memorandum to the President of India through Governor in States and Lieutenant Governor in Union Territories.
“We sat down on the street peacefully in front of barricades blocking entry into Chandigarh,” said Suman Huda, president of Haryana women’s unit of the BKU.
“We are continuing the protests (around 5pm) in front of the electricity board office in Panchkula,” she added.
Farmer unions have been demanding repeal of the three farm laws and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, as well as legalization of minimum support price (MSP).
Thousands of farmers have been participating in sit-in protests at Delhi’s borders since November 26 last. While the number has been going down, a recent surge was witnessed to mark seven months of their protests.
According to the general secretary of the Left-affiliated All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Hannan Mollah, “Reports are coming in from various parts of the country of a successful show of unity in our struggle.”
“There was a huge congregation in Tripura too,” he said.
The police in Kolkata, claimed Hannan Mollah, had baton-charged “peaceful demonstrators” near the Mahatma Gandhi statue. “However, they have managed to hand over the memorandum to Raj Bhavan,” he added.
In Delhi, police blocked traffic near the Raj Niwas. A small group of farmers, intending to hand over the memorandum to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, squatted on road in front of the reception.
“We were taken into custody in the forenoon but released about three hours later. We had an online meeting with the Lieutenant Governor around 5pm where we put forward our demands,” said BKU general secretary Yudhvir Singh.
In Bengaluru too, police apprehended protesting farmer leaders. According to the convenor of Samyukta Horata, G C Bayyareddy, their permission was withdrawn due to the weekend “curfew” in force to check the spread of Covid-19.
“The police arrested us around noon but soon released us. However, we have handed over our memorandum,” he said.
A tractor rally was held at the Ghazipur protest site, where BKU leader and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait led the cavalcade. However, in keeping with an SKM decision, they did not enter Delhi.
Protesting farmers raised slogans against the Centre and the farm bills. They were carrying respective farm union flags and placards.
In many places across states, volunteers had set up stalls offering food and water to the protesters and the sundry passerby.
The protesting farm unions claim that the laws would pave the way for the dismantling of ‘mandis’ and the MSP system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.
However, the government claims that the reforms are meant for the betterment in their profession and life.