UN calls for restraint as farmers plan nationwide ‘chakka jam’

Farmers said they will block state and national highways during the "peaceful" 'chakka jam' between noon and 3 pm on Saturday. They, however, said they will not disrupt traffic movement or block essential services such as ambulances in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh

farmers
The crowd of farmers at Delhi's borders is thinning out, but that's no indication of the protest petering out.  | File Photo: PTI

Farmers agitating against the three new farm laws have said that they will not cause obstructions in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh during the nationwide ‘chakka jam’ they have planned to intensify their protests, even as the United Nations called on the authorities and the protestors to exercise maximum restraint.

Farmers said they will block state and national highways during the “peaceful” ‘chakka jam’ called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of the farmer unions protesting against the farm laws, between noon and 3 pm on Saturday (February 6). They, however, said they will not disrupt traffic movement or block essential services such as ambulances and school buses in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, where harvesting is taking place.

Also read: Farmers’ protests limited to only one state, says Tomar in Parliament

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The SKM had earlier this week announced the nationwide ‘chakka jam’ on Saturday, saying that farmers would block national and state highways for three hours in protest against the Internet ban in areas near their agitation sites, harassment allegedly meted out to them by authorities, and other issues.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — for over 70 days, demanding a complete repeal of the three central farm laws.

On Friday, the SKM said there would be no ‘chakka jam’ in Delhi even as it asserted that peasants in other parts of the country will block national and state highways for three hours but in a peaceful way.

The Delhi police have, however, intensified security in view of the violence witnessed during the protest rally on Republic Day. Over 1,000 personnel of the police’s traffic unit will man arterial roads at border points to prevent the ‘chakka jam’ from affecting vehicular movement. The police said they will divert traffic, if need be, depending on how the protest unfolds.

“The protesters told us that they won’t enter Delhi but we still need to take precautionary measures. We have deployed our force at the border and at picket points to check vehicles,” Deepak Yadav, DCP (East), said, reported The Indian Express.

Also read: JJP’s Dushyant walks tight rope as Haryana farmers intensify protest

The UN human rights office on Friday (February 5) called for restraint from both the protesting farmers and the authorities, emphasising that it is crucial to find “equitable solutions” with due respect to human rights for all.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a tweet, said the rights to peaceful assembly and expression should be protected both offline and online.

“#India: We call on the authorities and protesters to exercise maximum restraint in ongoing #FarmersProtests. The rights to peaceful assembly & expression should be protected both offline & online. It’s crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to #HumanRights for all,” it tweeted.

Multiple rounds of talks between the government and the farmer unions have remained deadlocked. The protests at the Delhi borders for repeal of the three contentious agri laws that was enacted in September last year began on November 28, 202.

As the protest rages, many international celebrities like Rihanna and Mia Khalifa, have voiced their support, inviting sharp rebuke from India. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said any protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the government and the farmer groups concerned to resolve the impasse.

Also read: Delhi police on high alert for farmers’ ‘chakka jam’ on Saturday

“The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming,” the MEA said in a statement on Wednesday.

In a strong response to the remarks made by foreign individuals and entities, the MEA on Wednesday said the “temptation” of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments is “neither accurate nor responsible”.

(With agency inputs)

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