Farmers protesting the centre’s agriculture laws will not return home till their demands are met, and will not be pressured into holding talks with the centre, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said Saturday afternoon, after the farmers’ three-hour chakka jam (blocking) of state and national highways passed peacefully.
Addressing farmers gathered at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, Mr Tikait also said the protest would extend till October 2 and that the centre had till that date to repeal the laws, failing which the farmer groups agitating against the laws would plan further protests.
“We won’t return home unless our demands are met,” Mr Tikait, whose tearful appeal following the violence during the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally has galvanised protesters, said.
“We have given time to the government till October 2 to repeal the laws. After this, we will do further planning. We won’t hold discussions with the government under pressure,” he added.
Farmers across several parts of the country – except in UP, Uttarakhand and Delhi – held their chakka jam today. Highways across the northern part of India, including the Eastern Peripheral Expressway around Delhi, were blocked in a peaceful protest.
Visuals showed farmers and their tractors camped across highways in large numbers. While the roads were blocked for regular commuters, videos also showed farmers quickly moving barricades aside and allowing ambulances and emergency vehicles past with minimum fuss.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they are holding road blockades at 33 places in 15 districts including Sangrur, Barnala and Bathinda in Punjab.
The farmers have rejected the Centre’s latest offer to keep the farm laws on hold for 18 months and continue negotiations. The government, on its part, has made it clear that will not withdraw the laws, which have been billed as its big ticket reforms in the sector that would improve the farmers’ income.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
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