Farmers mahapanchayat causes traffic snarls

| | New Delhi
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Farmers mahapanchayat causes traffic snarls

Friday, 15 March 2024 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

Traffic snarls were witnessed in central Delhi and Sarai Kale Khan on Thursday in view of a farmers "mahapanchayat" convened at the Ramlila Ground here to protest against the Centre's policies regarding the farming sector. Vehicles moved at a snail's pace, resulting in traffic congestion at ITO, Delhi Gate, Daryaganj, Connaught Place, and on National Highway-24 near Sarai Kale Khan, among other places. Massive traffic snarls were witnessed at Sarai Kale Khan. A senior police officer said commuters might face some trouble but the traffic is moving. "We have had a word with the traffic police about diversion plans," the officer said.  Meanwhile, security was beefed up in the national capital on Thursday and heavy force was deployed for checking vehicles in the central parts of the city due to Mahapanchayat'.

Scores of Punjab farmers have gathered at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi to attend ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ that has been organized by the Samyukt Kisam Morcha (SKM) on Thursday to press the Centre to accept the farmers' demands, including a law on the minimum support price (MSP). During their gathering, they raised slogans against the Union Government. It also vowed to continue its stir during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls if its demands are not met, according to the resolution.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told reporters, "We held a meeting here and a message has gone to the government that farmers of our country are united. The government should talk to us to resolve the issue. This agitation is not going to stop anytime soon and it will spread from Kashmir to Kanyakumari."

Tikait said the government wants to destroy the country by turning the farmers into labourers.

"They have already ended the 'mandi' system in Bihar and now they want to do it across the country. This way, they want the farmers to become labourers," he said.

He also said the government wants to break the unity of farmers by forming different farmers' unions.

"They want to divide us based on caste, religion, regionalism and language," he charged.

Krantikari Kisan Union leader Darshan Pal, who also participated in the mahapanchayat, said the demands of the farmers have been neglected for years.

"We have been holding agitations since 2021 and their charters have already been sent to the president and the prime minister but nothing has happened so far," he said.

"Today, we discussed the same issues and again informed the farmers who came here from various parts of the country about our demands. We also passed a resolution to continue our agitation and target the policies of BJP during the election period as well," he added.

Pal also showed his displeasure over the limited gathering permitted by the Delhi Police at the Ramlila Maidan.

"We were not allowed to come to Delhi. The permission for the 'mahapanchayat' was given at the eleventh hour with several restrictions like only 5,000 farmers could come. The farmers were not allowed to go to gurdwaras and they were also stopped at railway stations," he claimed.The farmers also raised slogans against the Union government at the protest venue. Several women farmers also joined the protest.

There were yellow, red, blue and white coloured flags that were carried by different farmers signifying their affiliation to different farm unions.

The farmers from states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal had come for the mahapanchayat.

Harman Singh, a farmer from Punjab's Patiala, said he arrived in the capital on Wednesday night.

"We want the Centre's policies to be pro-farmers. We also want our demand for an MSP (minimum support price) on crops to be fulfilled," he said.

Ravinder Singh, a farmer from Punjab's Bathinda, said action should be taken against the accused in the violence that erupted in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri in October 2021.

"We want action against the person who drove his car over farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. The family members of the victim should get compensation and a government job," he said.

During the ongoing protest at Ramlila Maidan, a farmer reiterated the main demand of the protest which is the legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP).

"Our main demand is a legally guaranteed minimum support price," said 39-year-old Utpal Biswas, from the eastern state of West Bengal. "Today's protest is supposed to last for a day but we will see how it progresses."

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