‘Delhi Chalo’ March Explainer: What the farmers’ protest is all about

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'Delhi Chalo' Explainer: What the farmers’ protest is all about
Image Source : PTI

‘Delhi Chalo’ Explainer: What the farmers’ protest is all about

Thousands of farmers have reached the nationwide capital on their tractor-trolleys and different autos, responding to the “Delhi Chalo” call against the agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre in September. On Saturday morning, it wasn’t clear if they will agree to move to the Burari ground on the outskirts of the city, where police said they can continue with their protest. Many protesters were demanding a better venue in the centre of Delhi. Originally, the protest was meant to be on November 26 and 27.

A look at the protest so far:

Day 1:

On Thursday, thousands of farmers crossed from Punjab to Haryana. At border points, the Haryana Police tried to stop them, using water cannons and teargas. But later they were allowed through. There were skirmishes with police at other points as well on the highway to Delhi as it passed through BJP-run Haryana. A large group of protesters camped for the night near Panipat.

Day 2:

Protesters assembled at Delhi’s border at Tigri and Singhu. Police used teargas and water cannons to stop them from breaking through barricades, which included sand-laden trucks. In the evening, they offered to let them into the city and continue their protest at Burari ground. But many appeared reluctant.

Day 3: The standoff continued on Saturday morning at Delhi’s border. More farmers were making their way from Punjab and Haryana.

What farmers fear:

Farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana say the recent laws enacted at the Centre will dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) system. Over time big corporate houses will dictate terms and farmers will end up getting less for their crops, they argue. Farmers fear that with the virtual disbanding of the mandi system, they will not get an assured price for their crops and the “arthiyas” — fee brokers who additionally pitch in with loans for them — can be out of enterprise.

Read More: Punjab farmers ‘Delhi Chalo’ march’ | LIVE

Their calls for:

The key demand is the withdrawal of the three legal guidelines which decontrol the sale of their crops. The farmer unions may additionally accept a authorized assurance that the MSP system will proceed, ideally by way of an modification to the legal guidelines.

They are additionally urgent for the withdrawal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, fearing it’ll result in an finish to subsidised electrical energy. Farmers say guidelines in opposition to stubble burning must also not apply to them.

Key gamers: The `Delhi Chalo” call was given by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. Several other organisations including Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh and factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) came out in support.

The march is being held under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha. The Rashtriya Kisan Mahasanghathan, Jai Kisan Andolan, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Krantikari Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), BKU (Rajewal), BKU (Ekta-Urgahan,) BKU (Chaduni) are among the participants.

Most protesters are from Punjab, but there is a substanial number from Haryana as well. There have been scattered support for the “Delhi Chalo” protest from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Earlier protests:

Before “Delhi Chalo” farmers in Punjab and Haryana held sit-ins and blocked roads in sporardic protests. Punjab farmer unions then introduced a “rail roko” agitation, which lasted for abour two months, resulting in a suspension of trains to the state and shortages in crucial areas, together with coal for thermal energy stations.

At one level, the unions relaxed the agitation to let items trains by way of, however the Railways insisted that they are going to both run each freight and passengers trains or none.

The contentious legal guidelines:

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The Congress-majority Punjab Assembly reacted to those central legal guidelines by passing Bills meant to “negate” their effect in the state. The Punjab Bills, however, are still awaiting assent of the state Governor.

What the Centre says

The Narendra Modi government says the new laws will give more options to the farmers to sell their crops and get them better prices. It has assured that there is no move to end the MSP system, and the new Acts do not refer to it.

Before the Delhi Chalo agitation began, the Centre had invited representatives from over 30 farmer unions for a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on December 3. An earlier meeting on November 15 had remained inconclusive.

Also Read: Govt invitations agitating farmers for talks on Dec 3, floor in Delhi outskirts is new protest web site

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