‘Delhi Chalo’ call stands, further announcements on Mar 3, farmer leaders say

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march by farmers to press the government to accept their demands.

Chandigarh: Farmer leaders on Friday asserted that their “Delhi Chalo” agitation will continue till demands are met, saying they will announce their next course of action on March 3 after a prayer meeting for a farmer who died during clashes with Haryana security personnel in Khanauri.

They said the existing ‘morchas’ of farmers at the Shambhu and Khanauri borders will be strengthened and farmers will also hold a sit-in protest in Dabwali in support of their demands.

Speaking to reporters at the Shambhu border, farmer leaders Manjeet Singh Rai and Jaswinder Singh Longowal said the next announcement will be made after the final prayers at Shubhkaran Singh’s native village Balloh in Bathinda district.

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Shubhkaran Singh was killed and around 12 police personnel were injured in clashes at the Khanauri border point on the Punjab-Haryana border on February 21.

Replying to a question on the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ call, Longowal said it still stands.

He also hit out at the Centre and the Haryana government for using “oppressive methods” against farmers holding a peaceful protest.

“It is not just the question of using teargas or mild lathi-charge… we have seen them use toxic gases and everyone knows how we lost Shubhkaran,” Longowal said.

“In a democracy, is it justified that bullets are fired… Our agitation will continue. It will head to victory. At the same time, one thing is clear, we have to save our children from bullets,” the farmer leader said.

Earlier in the day, another farmer leader, Sarwan Singh Pandher, said the government was not paying attention to farmers’ demands as the ruling party’s sole focus was on winning the Lok Sabha elections ahead.

The government should give a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and meet other demands of protesting farmers, he added.

“Rather than paying attention to farmers, they are focused on how to win the elections,” Pandher said, asserting that the farmers’ agitation will continue till their demands are met.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by farmers to press the government to accept their demands.

The march was put on hold for two days after Shubhkaran Singh was killed on February 21. Two days later, the farmer leaders said the protesters would continue to camp at Khanauri and Shambhu on Punjab’s border with Haryana till February 29.

Pandher said a meeting to pay tributes to Shubhkaran Singh will be held by the SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha at Balloh on March 3. Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will attend it in large numbers, he added.

Shubhkaran’s body was taken to Balloh for his last rites on Thursday.

The farmers protesting to press the Centre for their various demands are staying put at the two protest sites on the Punjab-Haryana border.

The farmer leaders had earlier said they would not end their agitation until their demands were met, indicating that their stir might continue even if the Model Code of Conduct for the elections comes into force.

Previously, the farmer leaders rejected the BJP-led Centre’s proposal for procuring pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP by government agencies for five years, saying it was not in favour of the farmers.

In the fourth round of talks with the farmer leaders on February 18, a panel of three Union ministers had proposed that government agencies would buy pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP for five years after entering into an agreement with farmers.

The Punjab farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

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