Farmers Stopped at Rewari on Delhi-Jaipur Highway Disrupting Traffic for 3 Hours


farmers at Delhi-Jaipur Highway

Heads of all farmer unions to observe one-day hunger strike on Monday

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – The 18-day-old farmers’ agitation continued Sunday even as protesters marching in tractors from Shahjahanpur on the Rajasthan-Haryana border were stopped at Rewari. Nearly 200 protesters, mainly hailing from Rajasthan and south Haryana, sat on a dharna on one side of the road resulting in traffic halt for three hours.

The call had been given by Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of ryots that is coordinating the ongoing nationwide stir against the controversial farm laws.

As part of their plan to intensify the agitation from Monday, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni announced that the heads of all farmer unions would observe a one-day hunger strike on Monday between 8 am and 5 pm.

He made the announcement at a press conference at Delhi’s Singhu border on Sunday, where the farmers have been camping for the past 18 days now. Chaduni said the leaders would observe the hunger strike at their respective places. Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told PTI, “Government agencies have been stopping farmers from reaching Delhi, but the protest will continue till their demands are met. Our stand is clear; we want the three farm laws repealed. All farmer unions participating in this movement are together.”

Another farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait, said, “If the government gives another proposal for talks, our committee will decide on it. We appeal to all to maintain peace during the protest.”

The farmers’ march from Rajasthan had started in the morning from Shahjahanpur, 120 km from Delhi. The group of 800-900 were led by Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav. Social activist Medha Patkar also accompanied the group. Visuals showed farmers carrying placards and shouting slogans as they walked slowly down the highway. Tractors pulling tarpaulin-covered trailers, and flanked by cars with banners waving out of the windows, were also seen.

The marching farmers were stopped at Rewari on the Haryana border, where the police have put up blockades. Unlike Punjab farmers, the marching farmers from Haryana and Rajasthan are not carrying any provisions. But that has not been an impediment so far, as the locals have started a supply line of food and drinks, ferrying them in trucks to the protesters, according to NDTV.

Another group of protesting farmers tried to march towards the Haryana border from Rajasthan’s Neemrana. A section of farmers from the Congress-ruled state has decided they would give some more time to the Centre before escalating their protest.

The Rashtriya Loktantric Party, which has a large support base among Jat farmers in Nagaur district, said its chief Hanuman Beniwal had gone to the border to join the protest but “decided to give more time to the Centre”.

Asserting that the peaceful movement will continue, farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa, who is camping at the Delhi-Haryana border at Singhu, told NDTV: “The government should not test the patience of farmers. First, they called farmers Pakistanis and then said that China is running this movement and now they are saying that the Naxalites are calling the shots.”

Earlier in the day, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Som Parkash met Home Minister Amit Shah, news agency PTI reported. The ministers were accompanied by BJP leaders from Punjab. Tomar and Parkash, along with their ministerial colleague Piyush Goyal, had led the government’s negotiations with the protesting farmers.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he would hold a one-day fast on Monday in support of the protesting farmers. He also urged all Aam Aadmi Party workers and supporters to observe the one-day fast in solidarity with the farmers. Addressing a virtual press briefing, the Kejriwal said the Centre should immediately accept all demands of the farmers. He also asked the BJP-ruled Centre to shun “arrogance”, and scrap the three farm laws and bring in a Bill to guarantee minimum support price for agricultural produce.

Agriculture Minister Tomar on Sunday accused Opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that these legislations “may cause difficulty for some in the short term” but would be beneficial to farmers in the long run. Tomar, who is leading negotiations with the 40 protesting farmer unions to break the deadlock, was addressing a delegation of over 100 farmers from Uttarakhand who came to extend their support to the laws. Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey were present in the meeting.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday slammed the Central government for some of its ministers “alluding to the presence of separatist elements” in the ongoing farmers’ protest.

“Ministers have described the protesters against the Farm Laws as Khalistanis; agents of Pakistan and China; Maoists; and, the latest, tukde tukde gang,” the Congress leader tweeted.

“If you exhaust all these categories, it means there are no farmers among the thousands of protesters. If there are no farmers, why is the government talking to them?” he asked in another tweet.

The new farm laws, according to the government, will empower farmers and allow them more freedom to sell anywhere they like.

In several rounds of negotiations with the farmer leaders, the government had offered to amend the laws and even give in writing that they would keep their word. But the farmers have stuck to nothing less than complete withdrawal of the laws that they say harm their interests, especially financial stability when it comes to minimum support price and the mandi system.

Thousands of farmers have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi since late November.

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