Amid reports that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to the Centre seeking permission to shutdown markets for a few days if crowding and violation of social distancing norms continue, farmers said they are not worried as “it is a matter of our very existence”.
Undeterred by water cannons, blockades and freezing temperatures, thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana are marching towards the national capital to protest against the Centre’s contentious farm laws. The farmers are expected to reach Delhi on November 26 through five highways connecting the city as part of the “Delhi chalo” call by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh and various factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
The Delhi Police on Wednesday said it had rejected requests received from various farmer organisations to protest in the national capital. “Please co-operate with Delhi Police in ensuring no gathering in Delhi amid coronavirus, failing which legal action will be initiated as per law,” the Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Haryana Police used cranes to put boulders on roads and restricted the movement of traffic on various stretches to thwart the march. The Ambala-Delhi highway in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district was witness to dramatic scenes as police used water cannons on agitating farmers. The Haryana Police has issued a travel advisory, asking commuters to avoid certain national highways along the state border with Punjab and Delhi for the next three days.
Live BlogFollow this space for the latest developments on the farmers protesting against the Farm laws in Delhi
The Ambala-Delhi highway in Haryana's Kurukshetra district was witness to dramatic scenes as police used water cannons on agitating farmers to prevent them from proceeding to the national capital. Making their way through boulders and barricades laid on the road by the police, the farmers continued to march towards the national capital as part of the November 26 "Delhi chalo" call given by Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting against the contentious farm laws.
Members of Farmers' Union outside Punjab Bhawan on Saturday. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)Why are Punjab's farmers marching to Delhi despite state passing own farm Bills?
The three Bills passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha underscore that agriculture, agricultural markets, and land is the primary legislative domain of the state. Seeking to address one of the main grievances of the protesting farmers, the Bills, among other things, make minimum support price (MSP) a legal provision.
Farmers say they are happy with the state passing the three Bills, but point out that the proposed state legislations are at best a symbolic political statement against the Centre's farm laws and may remain entangled in legal complications. The Bills can become law only if they get Presidential assent, which they say, is highly unlikley.
“We are protesting because the central laws have legal value. The state's Bills do not have the same legal validity. We will not sit till the time the anti-farmer laws are not revoked or a Bill related to MSP is not passed by the Centre. Agriculture is a state subject and Centre could not create confusion by passing laws on subjects in state list,” says Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Dakuanda). He says that now the fight is not only for the farmers of Punjab but for the farmers of the entire country and that is why we are protesting “despite state passing its own Bills”.