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  4. Farmers observe hunger strike, vow to intensify agitation | Highlights

Farmers observe hunger strike, vow to intensify agitation | Highlights

Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws observed a day-long hunger strike at Delhi border points on Monday with the agitation spreading to different parts of the country with peasant unions staging demonstrations at district headquarters. 

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: December 14, 2020 22:30 IST
farmers protest, farmers hunger strike
Image Source : INDIA TV

Farmers are protesting for the last 19 days to press for their demand to repeal the agri laws.

Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws observed a day-long hunger strike at Delhi border points on Monday with the agitation spreading to different parts of the country with peasant unions staging demonstrations at district headquarters. As talks with the government remained inconclusive, the farmer unions have intensified their protest and more people are expected to join the ongoing agitation at Delhi border points. Meanwhile, demonstrations were also held in several district headquarters in response to a call for such agitation in all districts.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Haryana), said that the government is misleading everyone on MSP. "Centre will continue buying crops at the same amount, as they use to before, that's what 'buying at MSP' means for them. But we can't survive on that anymore. And Centre is not buying crops at MSP from all states. Home Minister Amit Shah replied to us during 8th Dec meet that they can't buy all 23 crops at MSP as its costs Rs 17 lakhs crores," he told ANI.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday appealed to people to fast wherever they are in support of protesting farmers, and asserted that farmers will win in the end. Kejriwal is observing day-long fast in support of the farmers' protest on Monday.

In view of the nationwide protest, the Delhi Police has enhanced security at city border points. Multi-layered cemented barriers, additional police force and barbed wires formed the first layer of security at the protest site at the Singhu border. The second layer of barricades deployed by the Delhi Police is being guarded by a team of the Rapid Action Force along with paramilitary forces. Then crossing through the toll plaza, as one reaches the main barricades, heavy police presence is witnessed. The traffic police has issued advisory to commuters to take alternative routes in view of the farmers' protests.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day 19 of farmers’ stir

5:50 PM: Today's hunger strike was successful. We will block highways if our tractors and vehicles are obstructed: Rakesh Tikait

5:30 PM: MPs and MLAs of Haryana meet Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Krishi Bhavan.

5:23 PM: Farmers who were on a day-long hunger strike at Singhu border as part of their protest against Centre's farm laws, break their fast.

4:26 PM: 10 farmer unions support farm laws

Members of 10 farmer unions meet Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in New Delhi. "The unions were from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. We have invited agitating farmers to come forward for a clause by clause discussion on the farm laws," Tomar said.

2:40 PM: 99% farmers are with Modi government: BJP leader

Amid a protest by farmers against the Centre's three new farm laws, BJP general secretary Arun Singh on Monday claimed that more than 99 per cent farmers in the country are with the Modi government. He alleged that the Congress fuelled the ongoing farmers' agitation. On the BJP ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party supporting the farmers' agitation and threatening to sever ties with the NDA, Singh said his party leaders will persuade its chief Hanuman Beniwal when he talks to them. Beniwal has said that he will have to reconsider his support to the central government if the farm laws are not withdrawn in the interest of farmers. The BJP leader said, "More than 99 per cent farmers in the country are with the Modi government and if there is confusion among the rest, we will sit and the confusion will be removed.

2 PM: Farmers' stir: Several Delhi border points closed, police ask motorists to take alternative routes

Several borders of the national capital remained closed on Monday due to the ongoing protest by farmers against the Centre's new agri laws. The Delhi Traffic Police took to Twitter to inform people about road closures and advised them to take alternative routes to avoid inconvenience. Farmers from different states have been camping at Delhi's Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla (Delhi-Noida) border points for over two weeks to demand repeal of the farm laws enacted in September. In a series of tweets, the Delhi Traffic Police said, "Singhu, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari, Sabholi & Mangesh borders are closed. Please take alternate routes via Lampur, Safiabad & Singhu school toll tax borders. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba & GTK road. Pl avoid Outer Ring Rd, GTK road, NH-44."

"Gazipur border is closed for traffic coming from Gaziabad to Delhi due to farmers protests. People are advised to take alternate route for coming to Delhi via Anand Vihar, DND, Chilla, Apsara & Bhopra borders," it tweeted.

1:35 PM: No question of taking retrograde steps against agriculture sector: Rajnath Singh

Union minister Rajnath Singh on Monday defended the three farm laws that are at the heart of protests. Rajnath reiterated that the reforms will benefit farmers and ruled out taking retrograde steps against agricultural sector. He said that the laws enacted in September will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. "Agriculture has been one sector which has been able to avoid the adverse effects of the pandemic and, in fact, come out the best. Our produce and procurement have been plentiful and our warehouses are full," Rajnath said.

1:15 PM: Rakesh Tikait denies any rift among farmers

Bharatiya Kisan Union's (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Monday said that there is no rift among farmers after the resignation of three leaders of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) faction. "There is no rift among farmers. 3 leaders of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) faction resigned because they were upset with their President Bhanu Pratap Singh, as to why he compromised," Rakesh Tikait told ANI regarding 3 BKU (Bhanu Faction) leaders' resignation.

1 PM: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Ministers and MLAs hold 'hunger strike' in support of farmers who are protesting against Centre's Farm Laws. Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, ministers Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai and party leader Aatishi Marlena are present.

12:20 PM: Union minister appeals to farmers to hold talks with govt

Union minister Kailash Choudhary has appealed to the farmers to sit with the government and resolve issues related to farm laws. "If farmers want to get something added to these bills, it's very much possible but it can't be an absolute 'Yes or No'. Sitting together leads to a solution," Kailash Choudhary, MoS Agriculture, said.

11:50 AM: Narendra Tomar meets Amit Shah as farmers' agitation enters its 19th day

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar is currently holding a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the latter's residence, news agency ANI reported. The meeting comes in the backdrop of farmers' agitation as it entered its 19th day.

11:25 AM: Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh lock horns over farmers' stir

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday slammed Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over the latter's "theatrics" remark on Kejriwal's fasting for farmers. Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said he is standing with the farmers since the beginning and is serving them. 

11:15 AM: Javadekar slams Kejriwal over his fast

 BJP leader and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar slams Delhi CM ArvindKejriwal over his fast. Javadekar tweeted, "This is your hypocrisy. You promised amendment to APMC Act in Punjab assembly elections. You notified one farm law in Delhi in November 2020 and you are on fast today. Nothing but hypocrisy."

11:10 AM: Farmer leaders sit on hunger strike from at Ghazipur border 

Farmers' leaders including Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union sit on a hunger strike from 8 am-5 pm at Ghazipur (Delhi-UP border), where the protest entered day 17 today.

11 AM: Farmers' stir: BKU Ekta Ugrahan leader says they won't observe fast as decided by other unions

Leaders of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), who had organised an event to demand the release of jailed activists last week, have decided to distance themselves from the one-day hunger strike call given by 32 farmer unions from Punjab on Monday. Sukhdev Singh, Punjab general secretary of BKU Ekta Ugrahan, said that Ugrahan leaders will not observe fast. "We will not participate (in one-day hunger strike)," Sukhdev told PTI.

10:40 AM: Farmers' leaders sit on hunger strike at Tikri border

Farmers' leaders sit on hunger strike at Tikri border as their protest against Centre's farm laws enters 19th day.

10 AM: 19th day of farmers protest 

Today is the 19th day of the farmers stir. Farmers have also called for demonstrations across the country today. Farmer unions have also called for protests at all district headquarters to press for their demand to repeal the new farm laws. This is the second nationwide protest by farmers in less than a week. Earlier on December 8, farmers blocked highways and stopped trains as a part of countrywide shutdown call. 

9:40 AM: Delhi CM Kejriwal observes fast 

In another related development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced to observe fast on Monday to show solidarity with protesting farmers. He has appealed to the central government “to shun ego and scrap the legislation”.

"Fasting is sacred. Wherever you are, fast for our brothers. Pray to God for the success of their struggle. In the end, farmers will definitely win," he tweeted.

9:15 AM: Delhi Traffic Police issues advisory in wake of farmers' protest. Check details

Several Delhi roads are closed as farmer leaders hold hunger strike on the 19th day of their stir against the three farm laws. The Delhi Traffic Police have issued a traffic advisory for the people of the national capital.

More farmers head to Delhi 

Despite several round of talks with the government, farmers have said the protests will continue till the new farm laws are repealed. The government has hinted that it will not repeal the laws, but agreed to make changes. The government maintains that the laws are in the interest of farmers. 

Meanwhile, more protesters headed for Delhi with a large group blocking the key Delhi-Jaipur national highway when it was stopped by police on Haryana-Rajasthan border. Earlier on Sunday, more farmers from Punjab and other states arrived near the Singhu and Tikri borders to join the sit-in which has been continuing since November 26.

Union Minister Kailash Choudhary said the government will soon decide a date for the next meeting and expressed confidence that the issues will be resolved this time. Five rounds of talks have failed to end the stalemate and the sixth was cancelled on December 9.

While the farmers have warned of intensifying the stir in coming days amid a deadlock in talks, several Union Ministers have repeatedly alleged that the farmers’ protests have been hijacked by Maoists, Leftists and anti-national elements, a charge denied by the union leaders spearheading the agitation.

Political slugfest continues between govt, opposition 

A political slugfest has also erupted over the statements with the opposition, which has been supporting the stir, attacking the government, and the NCP said on Sunday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify the claims of the Union ministers.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that stern action will be taken against "Tukde Tukde Gang", a term used by the BJP to target political rivals whom it accuses of being anti-national, who are trying to take advantage of farmers movement against the new farm laws. 

"They (those protesting farm laws) are saying that they will not withdraw their movement unless and until these laws are withdrawn. We would like to say that Narendra Modi government respects farmers but would like to make it clear that stern action will be taken against 'tukde tukde gang' taking advantage of farmers movement," Prasad said.

"I want to ask who are these people who are talking the language of breaking the country. Now demands are being raised to free those so-called intellectuals who are in jails for indulging in rioting in Delhi and Maharashtra. Police have filed chargesheets, they are not able to obtain bail from the court as trials are underway. Now these people have taken refuge under farmers movement for their interest but we will not allow them to succeed in their goal," Prasad said while addressing the 'Kisan chaupal sammelan' at Tekbigha village in Bakhtiarpur assembly constituency of Patna district on Sunday.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Minister Som Parkash, accompanied by BJP leaders from Punjab, met Home Minister Amit Shah. Tomar hit out at the opposition parties accusing them of running propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that these laws "may cause difficulty for some in the short term" but will be beneficial to farmers in the long run.

"Manmohan Singh Ji (former Prime Minister) tried many times but could not do so. Today when it is implemented, propaganda is being spread," he said.

Prohibitory orders imposed in Rewari

Meanwhile, police said that prohibitory orders had been imposed in Rewari on the Haryana-Rajasthan border and barricades put up to stop the protesters from Rajasthan and other places from going to Delhi. The protesters, who marched through Behror, Shajahapur and Kotputli regions in Rajasthan, on Sunday squatted on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway at Jaisinghpur Kheda area along Rajasthan-Haryana border (NH-48), over 70 km from Gurugram and 80 km from Delhi.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are currently staying put at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations. However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on December 16 a plea seeking a direction to authorities to immediately remove the farmers who are protesting at several border points of Delhi against three new farm laws, saying commuters are facing hardships due to the road blockades and the gatherings might lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. According to the apex court website, a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian will hear the plea filed by law student Rishabh Sharma, who has also sought directions to authorities to open the roads at Delhi's borders, shift the protesters to the allotted place and provide guidelines on social distancing and use of masks at the protest site to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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