Braving the cold, thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)
Ahead of their meeting with the Centre on Monday, protesting farmer unions announced they would celebrate Lohri on January 13 by “burning” the copies of the new farm laws if their demands were not met. Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border on Sunday, the farmers reiterated that they would not go back until the three contentious farm laws were repealed.
“We will celebrate Lohri on January 13 by burning the copies of the farm laws. We will celebrate Kisan Diwas on January 23, on the occasion of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary,” ANI quoted farmers’ leader Manjeet Singh Rai as saying.
Another leader Onkar Singh urged the government to shun its “stubbornness”. “Today is 37th day of our protest, the govt should leave its stubbornness. We won’t go back till laws are taken back. It’s disappointing that farmers are losing their lives. So many farmers are braving the cold yet the govt is not taking it seriously,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Braving the cold, thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month. Farmers’ leader Harmeet Singh Kadian said, “It’s been raining, so we are trying to get waterproof tents although they are not up to government standard. We are trying to arrange blankets and warm water for women and the elderly.”
The Samyukt Kisan Union, the umbrella body of farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi to press their demands, told the media on Saturday that if all their demands were not met by January 26 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year – the farmers shall “peacefully and non-violently” lead a tractor parade into Delhi and across the country.
“If by January 26, the demands are not met by the government, then farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders shall peacefully and non-violently lead a trolley/tractor parade into Delhi. These marches shall also be held in all state and district capitals,” BKU (Sidhupur) president Darshanpal had said.
At their last meeting on December 30, the Centre agreed to “decriminalise” stubble burning by excluding farmers from the ambit of the ‘Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’, and drop those provisions of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the existing mode of subsidy payment to consumers.
The government and farmer unions are scheduled to meet again on January 4 to decide on demands to repeal the three newly enacted farm laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price for procurement — farmer unions are pressing for the enactment of a central MSP Act, covering 23 crops grown in the country.