Farmers Suspend Budget Day March to Parliament, But Resolve to Continue Agitation

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Delhi Police arrests 19 people and files more than 25 cases over Republic Day violence

NEW DELHI – The agitating farmers have suspended their plans for a march to parliament next Monday, the day Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to unveil country’s annual budget. This was announced on Wednesday by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (United Front of Farmers) at Sidhu border following violence that marred the massive tractor rally a day earlier.

“1st Feb’s march to parliament is postponed. We will have a jan sabha (public meeting) and anshan (hunger strike) on January 30 which is Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary,” Morcha leaders said while apologising to the public for the chaos and unrest of Tuesday.

The Morcha, representing over 30 farmer unions fighting for repeal of three controversial farm laws, also resolved to continue this agitation and appealed to the farmers to stay on the protest venues and continue a peaceful struggle.
Tens of thousands of protesting farmers have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi for two months refusing to budge till the government scraps the laws.

Most of the constituents of the Morcha held an emergency meeting under the chairmanship of Shri Balbir Singh Rajewal. Sincere appreciation was conveyed to the struggling farmers for extending an unprecedented response to the Kisan Republic Day Parade.

They discussed the violent incidents in New Delhi and concluded that the “government has been severely shaken by this peasant agitation. Therefore, a dirty conspiracy was hatched with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and others against the peaceful struggle of other farmer organizations, who had set up their own separate protest site after 15 days of beginning of this farmers’ agitation. They were not part of the organisations which jointly undertook the struggle,” they said.

They resolved not to allow the government and other forces inimical to the peaceful movement to break this struggle. More than two lakh protestors “joined yesterday’s rally. 99.9 per cent protesters were peaceful. It was a target of government’s conspiracy,” Balbir Singh Rajewal, one of the senior leaders of the farmers’ movement told a news conference at Singhu, one of the epicentres of the sit-in protests.

He and other protest leaders accused Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and a union Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee of a role in diverting the tractor rally from the agreed route and storming of Delhi’s historic Red Fort.

“These miscreants had declared that they will go to Red Fort. They had a deal with government. Authorities let them easily enter Red Fort. Deep Sidhu is Amit Shah and (PM Narendra) Modi’s agent,” Rajewal said.

Congress and Aam Admi Party, in separate press conferences, also called Sidhu an agent of the BJP. They also showed his photographs with Modi and Shah as proof of their respective claims.

Meanwhile, the rift within the farmers’ groups surfaced as two groups pulled out of the protest against the Centre’s three farm laws on wednesday. “We can’t carry forward a protest with someone whose direction is something else,” said V.M. Singh of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee. A faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union also dissociated itself from the movement.

Nineteen people have been arrested and more than 25 cases registered over the violence during Republic Day’s tractor rally, the Delhi Police said on Wednesday, adding that they are investigating the farmer groups’ leaders in connection with the violence.

Around 400 police personnel were injured in the day-long clashes, which started as the farmers broke barricades and tried to enter Delhi way ahead of time and deviated from the planned route which had been cleared for the rally.

At least 45 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were damaged in Tuesday’s violence. “As of now, I can only say that information we have received that 45 buses got damaged in Tuesday’s protest. A meeting of senior officials is scheduled to review the matter,” official at the DTC head office told IANS.


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