NEW DELHI: Further intensifying their agitation, the farmers on Tuesday observed ‘Pagdi Sambhal Divas’ at the Delhi borders in protest against the three central farm laws. The event, organised by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), was inspired by the ‘Pagdi Sambhal Lehar’ of 1906.
Here are the key developments of the day:
1. Donning traditional turbans and singing songs of the peasant movement, protesting farmers marked day-long ‘Pagdi Sambhal Divas’. “At that time also, the government had passed three anti-farmer laws against which the peasant movement started and it was successful. The unity of the farmers proves that this movement will also be successful,” an SKM statement said, referring to ‘Pagdi Sambhal Lehar of 1906. Once turban used to be pride of the farmer, but the government has forced farmers to use turban for hanging, farmer leaders said, adding that the day was observed to “express their self-respect”, he said.
At the Singhu border, cultural programmes were held, which were attended by the family members of the revolutionary Bhagat Singh, including his nephew Abhay Sandhu. At Tikri border, several farmers, largely from Karnataka and Telangana, arrived to join the movement. “The government repeatedly rejects this movement by calling it a movement of a particular area, rather this movement belongs to the farmers across the country,” the SKM statement said. ‘Pagdi Sambhal Divas’ was also observed in Nandurbar in Maharashtra, and Bhiwani in Haryana.
2. Social activist Yogendra Yadav said if ‘mandis’ are closed due to the centre’s new agri-marketing laws the farmers of Punjab and Haryana will be ruined as the government would no longer procure their crops. Addressing a ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ organised by United Kisan Morcha in Rajasthan’s Sikar district in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the farm laws, Yadav exuded confidence that these legislation will be repealed. Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait and former MLA Amra Ram also attended the ‘mahapanchayat’. Yadav said the government will not procure farmers’ crops if ‘mandis’ are closed due to the three agri laws enacted by the centre. If that happens, the farmers of Punjab and Haryana will be devastated. He said 450 farmer organisations have come together against the farm laws.
3. Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha called for replicating the success stories of innovative and progressive farmers from across the country in the union territory through transmission of ideas and knowledge sharing. The LG termed the innovative farmers as key change-makers in agricultural development and a motivating force for the whole farming community. He urged them to disseminate their technical know-how for further emulation by farmers to multiply their income. Sinha said the success stories of innovative and progressive farmers from across the country should be replicated in J&K through transmission of ideas and knowledge sharing for transforming agriculture and allied sectors as well as for realising the goal of doubling farmers’ income. He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a two-day-long innovative farmers’ conference on ‘farmers-led innovations for enhancing farm Income’ at SKUAST Jammu, organised to harness first-hand experiences of innovative farmers.
4. Refuting opposition charge that abolition of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act has worked against farmers of Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar said in fact the farm reforms have benefitted the cultivators which could be understood from the fact that the state has made highest ever 35.59 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy procurement in the current season. Replying to a debate on the motion of thanks on the Governor’s address to the joint session of the state legislature on Friday, the chief minister said the state government made elaborate arrangements for paddy purchase and even extended the duration of the procurement from the farmers and asserted that no farmer is left from whom paddy has to be procured now. Bihar had done away with the APMC Act way back in 2006 and also ended the mandi system. Kumar has supported the centre’s three new farm laws having similar contents. Dismissing the opposition charge that the over one-and-a-half decade back agriculture reforms in Bihar have worked against the farmers who have been forced to sell their grain at a much lower price than the MSP, Kumar reeled out figures to count the virtues of the farm legislations for the state. Kumar said categorically that the government will make no more paddy procurement in the current season as traders/ middlemen who had bought the grain from the cultivators before the procurement process were trying to sell it in the name of farmers and this would not be allowed at any cost.
5. Five farmers from each Uttar Pradesh village will fast for eight hours daily and send messages to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking withdrawal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS) president VM Singh said. The RKMS had withdrawn its support from the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the three contentious central laws following the violence in Delhi on Republic Day. It joined 21 other farmer outfits on Sunday to form the Uttar Pradesh Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (UPKMM). “Five farmers from each village in Uttar Pradesh will observe a fast from 9 am to 5 pm. At 3 pm, these farmers will record two-minute messages, introducing themselves to Prime Minister Modi and sharing their grievances on the new farm laws, which will be uploaded on our website,” Singh said at a press conference here. “This will continue till the time farmers from each and every village get the decided MSP for their wheat crop,” he added. Majority of farmers in the country are small and marginal, and they cannot afford to come to Delhi to join the protest, but with this method, they can stay in their villages, tend to their animals and also take part in the agitation, VM Singh said. There are 65,000 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, and even if 20,000 villages from among them take part in the movement, one lakh messages would be sent to the prime minister every day, the farmer leader claimed.
6. The Supreme Court-appointed panel on three new farm laws held consultations with representatives of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) to take their views on the legislations that were enacted in September last year. The Supreme Court had on January 12 stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws for two months and asked the committee to submit a report after consulting the stakeholders. Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for nearly three months now seeking repeal of the new legislations and a legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP) system. “The Supreme Court appointed Committee on recently enacted Farm Acts held its interaction from NASC complex, Pusa, New Delhi today with the office bearers of All lndia Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC),” the panel said in a statement. The committee members requested the participating office bearers of AIKCC to give their detailed views on the three laws – 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 Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. “All the participating office bearers of All lndia Kisan Coordination Committee gave their detailed views, suggestions and submissions on the above mentioned three Farm Acts, before the committee,” the statement said. The three-member committee is holding consultations with stakeholders both online and in person. Ashok Gulati, Pramod Joshi and Anil Ghanwat are the members of the panel.
7. In a blow to the Delhi police, a court in the national capital granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with allegedly being involved in sharing a “toolkit” on social media related to the farmers” protest, terming evidence produced by police as “scanty and sketchy”. The court said there is nothing on record to establish any direct link between Ravi and pro-Khalistan activists of ‘Poetic Justice Foundation’ (PJF) and also there is not even an iota of evidence connecting the perpetrators of the violence on January 26 with the PJF or her. Further, it observed that there is nothing on record to suggest that the activist subscribed to any secessionist idea and there is absolutely no link established on record between her and banned outfit ‘Sikhs For Justice’. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana, who granted relief to Ravi on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties of like amount, noted that the accused had “absolutely no criminal antecedents”. “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘ Bail’ against a 22 years old young lady, with absolutely blemish free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society, and send her to jail,” the judge said.
8. Farmers blocked the Jammu-Pathankot highway in Jammu for several hours in protest against the arrest of their leader and another man in connection with the Republic Day violence in Delhi, officials said. The protesters, mostly Sikhs including the family members of the arrested men, blocked the highway near Digiana Ashram, alleging that the two are being falsely implicated in the case as they are leading the ongoing farmers’ agitation in Jammu and Kashmir. However, they dispersed after senior civil and police officers led by an additional deputy commissioner visited them and sought some time, the officials said. Jammu and Kashmir United Kisan Front Chairman Mohinder Singh (45), a resident of Chatha area of Jammu city, and Mandeep Singh (23), a resident of Gole Gujral, Jammu, were arrested by Delhi Police on Monday night. The Delhi Police said they were “active participants” and “key conspirators” in the violence at the historic Red Fort during the farmers’ tractor parade on January 26. However, the protestors said they were “singled out and implicated” in the case because they worked for the welfare of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir.
9. A Delhi court sent actor-activist Deep Sidhu to judicial custody for 14 days in connection with the Red Fort violence on Republic Day during farmers’ tractor parade against the centre’s three new farm laws. Sidhu was produced before metropolitan magistrate Samarjeet Kaur on the expiry of his seven-day police custody in the case. The court had earlier sent Sidhu to police custody after the police alleged he was one of the main instigators of the violent incidents at the Red Fort. Tens of thousands of protesting farmers clashed with the police in the national capital on January 26 during a tractor parade to highlight their demands. Many of them driving tractors reached the Red Fort and entered the monument, where a religious flag was also hoisted. Over 500 police personnel were injured and one protestor died.
10. Lakha Sidhana, who is wanted in connection with the violence in Delhi on Republic Day, attended a public meeting in Punjab’s Bathinda in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the centre’s farm laws. A video clip showed him seated on the dais. The gangster-turned-activist had given a call for the public meeting in Bathinda’s Mehraj village last week. There was speculation whether Sidhana would take part in the public meeting as he is wanted by the Delhi Police for his alleged role in the violence that broke out during a tractor parade called by farmer unions on January 26 demanding the repeal of the agri-marketing laws.
(With agency inputs)