Farmers’ March Paused Till Feb 29, Protesters To Hold Ground At Borders

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Farmers' March Paused Till Feb 29, Protesters To Hold Ground At Borders

A candle march is scheduled for today, followed by seminars on farmer-related issues tomorrow.

New Delhi:

Farmer leaders on Friday announced that the future course of action regarding their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march will be decided on February 29. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), spearheading the protests, outlined a list of activities planned for the next week. Until then, the farmers are determined to hold their ground at two protest sites on the Punjab-Haryana border – Shambhu and Khanauri.

A candle march is scheduled for today, followed by seminars on farmer-related issues tomorrow. On February 26, the protestors intend to burn effigies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Centre. In addition, several meetings of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha forums are slated for the subsequent two days.

The demands put forth by the protesting farmers, including a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, and a farm loan waiver, remain at the core of the agitation. 

On Wednesday, where a protester lost his life and a dozen police personnel were injured during clashes at Khanauri, prompting the farmers to defer their march for two days. Shubhkaran Singh, a 21-year-old native of Bathinda, died in the clash. The farmer leaders expressed their grievances with the Punjab government regarding the registration of an FIR in Mr Singh’s death and insisted that the cremation would not proceed until their demands were met.

The situation escalated as the farmers criticised the Punjab Police for hesitating to file an FIR against security personnel from Haryana, whom the protestors held responsible for Mr Singh’s death. The farmers are demanding not only justice but also ‘martyr’ status for Mr Singh.

In response, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced compensation of Rs 1 crore and a government job for Mr Singh’s sister. However, this move failed to appease the protestors, as they insisted on the registration of an FIR against those responsible for the young farmer’s death.

The farmer leaders also announced the death of another protesting farmer, 62-year-old Darshan Singh from Amargarh village in Bathinda, who died of a heart attack at the Khanauri border, marking the fourth casualty during the ongoing protests.

Finance Minister’s Promise

Amidst these developments, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that the Centre has formed a three-member committee of ministers to engage in negotiations with the farmers. Ms Sitharaman insisted that the government is committed to farmers’ welfare and highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s continuous efforts in this regard.

“I can provide a series of lists of all that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done for the farmers. From increasing their income to assisting with the smallest of expenses, PM Modi has taken every step for the welfare of the farmers. He works for even the small farmers,” Ms Sitharaman said.

Resolution Through Dialogue

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said there is a need for a resolution through dialogue.

Mr Tikait, a prominent figure in the farmers’ movement, highlighted the integral role played by those living in forest areas in protecting the environment. 

“People living in the forests protect the environment. From Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, which is a forest area, Adivasis worship the ‘Jungle’. No army and farmers are standing face to face. We have people in the army also who comes from a farming background. There should be a solution through dialogue. Continuous talks are going on with the Centre,” he said.

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