Delhi-like farmers' stir kicks off in Chandigarh; Centre failed to meet demands, allege leaders
Farmer leaders alleged that the Union government has not fulfilled the promises made two years ago when they called off their historic protest
Scores of Punjab farmers launched a three-day protest under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on the eve of the third anniversary of the anti-farm laws stir on Sunday after they gathered at the Mohali-Chandigarh border to press the Centre to accept their demands, including a legal guarantee on a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
As the protest kicked off, thousands of farmers were expected to reach Chandigarh from Punjab and Haryana, with hundreds of tractor-trolleys dotting the roads leading to Chandigarh, resembling a Singhu-Tikri border-like gathering.
Heavy security arrangements were made ahead of the protest and traffic on certain roads was diverted to alternative routes, officials said. Punjab, Chandigarh, and Haryana police have sealed interstate borders to prevent farmers from entering Chandigarh. The farmers from Punjab are expected to gather at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali, from where they may attempt to march towards Chandigarh on Monday. Similarly, the farmers from Haryana have also arrived at Panchkula where police personnel have been deployed in strength.
The Chandigarh administration has established a three-layer security cover to prevent farmers from entering the city. The first layer will comprise Chandigarh police jawans, the second layer will be managed by the Rapid Action Force (RAF), and riot control vans and water cannons will be deployed at strategic locations for the third layer, managed by paramilitary forces.
‘Promises not fulfilled’
Farmer leaders alleged that the Union government has not fulfilled the promises made two years ago when they called off their historic protest. Among their key demands are a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) based on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report, extending MSP to other crops, waiver of farm loans and action against Union Minister Ajay Misra in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.
The farmers are also demanding a withdrawal of the cases filed against them during the 2020-21 agitation against three farm laws of the Centre that have since been repealed, compensation and jobs to one of the family members of those who died during the protest, debt waiver and pension.
The SKM is an umbrella body of various farmer unions. The farmers have announced that they will march to the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh to submit a memorandum of their demands to the Punjab governor.
Farmers from several parts of Punjab, including Ludhiana, Ferozepur and Sangrur, started gathering on the Mohali-Chandigarh border, near Phase-11 in Mohali, on Sunday. They came on tractor-trolleys, cars and other vehicles with a cargo of essential items, including ration, bedding, utensils and cooking gas cylinders, for the three-day protest.
BKU (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said hundreds of farmers have arrived at the protest site and many more are on their way. One of the farmers said he left his village in Ferozepur around noon on Saturday and reached the Mohali-Chandigarh border around 2 am.
“There is a massive presence of farmers here. It reminds me of the farmers' gathering at Delhi's Singhu and Tikri borders during the year-long protest against the now-repealed farm laws,” BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said.
The farmers have erected tents, set up a stage in the middle of the road and parked their vehicles, sporting flags of various farmer bodies. Some of the farmers were also seen preparing meals on the road.
The Punjab as well as the Chandigarh Police have beefed up security near the Mohali-Chandigarh border by putting up barricades and stationing water cannons.
(With agency inputs)