Why are farmers from Haryana and Punjab marching towards Delhi?

TBN 13/02/24: State borders in North India are being closed once more to stop another march to Delhi, more than two years after the Narendra Modi government abolished three agriculture rules in response to a year-long protest by farmers.

In an effort to protest the Union government’s failure to keep its word after the farm laws were repealed in November 2021, farmers from Punjab and Haryana have announced that they will travel to Delhi on February 13 under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha union.

Farmers who destroy public property during protests risk having their bank accounts frozen and their assets seized by the Haryana Police.

In an attempt to prevent farmers from entering the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Haryana has sealed three points along its border with Punjab. Barricades have also been erected at the city’s borders with Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur by the Delhi Police, which is subordinate to the BJP government in the central government.

Seven districts in Haryana have halted mobile internet access.

Farmers who cause damage to public property during the demonstration are receiving notifications from the Haryana Police threatening asset seizures. Video footage also reveals that the police have threatened to revoke the passports of protest participants through announcements played over loudspeakers.

But the farmers told Scroll that if they are denied entry into the city, they are ready for a long haul and will organise a nonviolent march.

What are the Demands
More than 70 farmer bodies from Punjab and Haryana are allegedly represented by the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, which issued the call for the protest march. It is headed by agricultural leaders from the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and Samyukt Kisan Morcha – Non Political, a subset of the wider umbrella organisation of farm unions that was established during the movement for agricultural laws.

The protest is being conducted to remind the government of the demands it made when the farm laws were repealed in November 2021, according to organiser Jagjit Singh Dallewal. “On the understanding that the government will fulfil these demands, the farm law protests were called off,” Dallewal stated to Scroll.

The twelve demands include a legal guarantee of the minimum support price for crops, the dismissal of cases brought against the demonstrators during the farm law agitation, compensation for the families of farmers killed in the protest, and legal action against those implicated in the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, including the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra.

Farmers will have their wishes met, according to a letter sent by the Union Agriculture Ministry in December 2021. The Union agriculture minister informed Parliament earlier this month that a committee tasked with looking into the legal guarantee of minimum support price has convened 37 meetings and workshops. The committee did not, however, specify whether or not it has issued any recommendations.

Meanwhile, the farm union umbrella group, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, has declared that it will not be taking part in the February 13 march.

“We endorse every demand put forth by the demonstrators, but the organisers of the call had split off from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha in 2022 in order to run for office in Punjab,” stated Inderjit Singh, the All India Kisan Sabha’s National Vice President. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, according to Singh, will organise a nationwide rural shutdown on February 16 called the Grameen Bharat Bandh.

Farmers and labourers in rural areas across the nation will abstain from work on the day of the bandh in protest against the corporate plunder of the agriculture sector under the Modi government, according to Singh.

Jashandeep Singh Randhawa, the superintendent of police in Ambala, said that letters for the freezing of bank accounts and the seizure of assets had been sent out, but he said he was unaware of the claims of threats to cancel passports and suspend employment. Randhawa stated he would not be able to comment until he had seen the material, after it was reported that there were recordings of police officers making announcements regarding passports.

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