Rajat Sharma


akb Several thousand farmers from Punjab, with nearly 800 tractor-trolleys are camping near multiple layers of barricades set up by police on the Haryana-Punjab border at Shambhu and Kanauri points since Tuesday. Police fired tear gas shells, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse farmers trying to break through the barriers. More than 12 farmers and 24 policemen including the DSP of Ambala were injured in the clashes that took place. Internet services have been shut down in 15 districts of Haryana and Rajasthan. Singhu and Tikri points on Delhi-Haryana and Ghazipur on Delhi-UP border have been heavily barricaded. The agitating farmers, who have given a ‘Delhi Chalo’ call, have come fully prepared to engage in a long drawn confrontation with the Centre. The farmer leaders are insisting on the Centre providing legal guarantee for procurement of all crops at minimum support prices. Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are leading this agitation. Two marathon rounds of talks between three ministers from the Centre with the farmer leaders in Chandigarh have failed, though the government has accepted most of their demands. While opposition leaders are busy politicizing the issue, lakhs of traders in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab are facing serious problems because of the roadblocks. Their business has been badly affected due to closure of mobile internet, bulk SMS and dongle services. Farmers have the right to protest, but one must see the motive behind this agitation. Questions must be asked whether this agitation is really meant for the betterment of farmers, particularly the poor peasants, or whether the main objective is to tarnish the image of Modi government. Several years ago, farmers had staged similar protests on Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-UP border, but it had little impact on the minds of common people. Despite these protests, Modi won elections, and this time too, those leading the agitation have come with political motive. Three ministers from Modi government have been engaged in several rounds of talks with farmer leaders for the last two days, but the farmer leaders are coming out with fresh demands every time. They are placing demands that cannot be accepted on the table. One of the demands is for India to come out of the World Trade Organization and from free trade agreements. How can three central ministers sitting at a table in talks with the farmers accept such a demand? Farmer leaders are demanding complete loan waiver scheme to free all farm households from indebtedness. Can the ministers promise to implement this without taking all stakeholders into confidence? It seems the farmer leaders have come with the sole aim to encircle the national capital borders by staging a sit-in for a longer period. They have come with six months’ ration for staging their sit-in. Most of the leaders are from Punjab, and there are reports that the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab is indirectly helping them.

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