Kisan Kranti Padyatra: Police fires tear gas and water cannons at protesting farmers

20 people, including farmers and police personnel, were injured in the clash between the protesters and security personnel on Gandhi Jayanti. 

farmers protest

New Delhi: An estimated 30,000 farmers were peacefully marching towards the national capital on Tuesday when the police fired water cannons and tear gas shells at them besides using lathi charge to disperse them. Many have condemned the govt and police action as it happened on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who espoused non-violent views.
“Close to 20 people, including farmers and police personnel, were injured in the clash between the protesters and security personnel at the Delhi-UP gate border on NH-24 when the Delhi Police denied them entry into the capital around 11.30 am on Tuesday. Police had used tear gas shells and water cannons when a group of protesters tried to break the iron and concrete barriers by ramming their tractor-trolleys into them,” reported Hindustan Times.
The ‘Kisan Kranti Padyatra’ led by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, marched from Haridwar on September 23 to reach New Delhi on Tuesday with their 15-point charter of demands including loan waivers, clearance of pending sugarcane payments and implementation of the Swaminathan Committee Report. No incidences of violence or trouble were reported throughout the route.

The police, anticipating trouble, barricaded the borders and prohibited their entry from all points.

“The farmers have also demanded loan waivers and free electricity for running tubewells. They said the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna should be made applicable to all crops and premium must be paid by the government. The other demands include the assurance of a minimum income for farmers and a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 for small and marginal farmers who completed 60 years of age. They have also demanded rehabilitation of families of farmers who had committed suicide. The farmers also want that diesel tractors should be kept out of the ambit of National Green Tribunal directions that have mandated the removal of all diesel vehicles older than 10 years from the National Capital Region,” the report said.
The protestors called off the protest march on Wednesday after reaching their target destination and said that the government had agreed to most of their demands and an official announcement will be made in six days.  
“Around 5,000 farmers were allowed into Delhi post midnight and reached their targeted destination, Kisan Ghat, and left by 6 am,” deputy commissioner of police (east) Pankaj Singh said in the report.

“The government has also assured the farmers of bearing the costs for the repair of tractors that were damaged during the standoff with the police at Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border on Tuesday,” said an agency report.

Activists and politicians condemn the violence against farmers
The All India Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (AIKMS) condemned the tear gas shelling and lathi charge on farmers. AIKMS had organised the Kisan Long March in Maharashtra earlier this year.
“AIKMS has strongly condemned the severe lathi charge, tear gas and water cannon charging on protesting peasants on the outskirts of Delhi today by the Anti-National, Anti-peasant Modi govt,” Dr. Ashish Mital, Gen Secy of AIKMS said.
“Since Modi govt came to power, peasants have been at the receiving end of his pro corporate, pro MNC policies, veiled behind false and fake promises of doubling farmers income, provision of employment, end to corruption. Both GST and Note Ban ruined farmers and small agro-producers wholesale. The steep rise in diesel and electricity prices, along with the withdrawal of fertilizer subsidy has broken their back and raised debts. Sugarcane farmers have been shortchanged with rising dues and interest on debts, with Yogi mocking at them for promoting diabetes. Suicides have continued unabated. MSP promise of C2 + 50% is being drowned under loud media hype around insincere, miniscule raise. Corruption in procurement and welfare has increased unashamedly and with contempt. Attempts by farmers to appeal to the democratic sense of is being crushed by an inhuman and fascist police administrative force. Foreign corporates, Walmart and co and their middlemen are being promoted at the expense of the grain growers,” he said.
“AIKMS condemns this repression and announces intensification of protests around the country to protest this. It calls upon all democratic forces to oppose Modi govt’s policies and force it to reverse its anti-people policies and punish the police for attacking the peasants,” he said.
Many in the opposition objected to how the farmers were treated and said that the Modi led govt only served its rich friends and not the youth, women or farmers.
“45-year-old Yasin Khan from UP’s Muzaffarnagar was among those hit by tear gas shells. His family of eight is dependent on sugarcane farming for whatever money they make. ‘The brutality of the police and the Modi government on unarmed farmers is unacceptable. We walked peacefully for 250 km and they couldn’t even tolerate us here for the rest of our journey. We don’t have money to send our kids to school. We don’t even have enough to feed them,’ Mr Khan said in a report by NDTV.
“Given that there was no violence along the route the farmers took from Haridwar to the Delhi border on the BKU’s call, questions were asked why Delhi police — which reports to the Centre — had been instructed not to allow them to enter the capital as planned. More so because just last month, the capital had witnessed a violence-free mobilisation of farmers by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The only difference between the two mobilisations was that in the case of the AIKS Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Rally, the majority came from far-off places and reached Delhi by train,” reported Telegraph.
“Farmers are not terrorists or Naxalites, they are coming with demands. Don’t they have the right to do that? The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government killed farmers in Mandsaur, today they are about to lose MP. Warning Modiji (that) if injustice with farmers continue, he will lose Delhi,” Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti said in the report. Shetti quit the NDA earlier this year in protest against the BJP’s failure to keep promises made to farmers in its manifesto.
“Taking a dig at the promise of “achchhe din (good days)” slogan of the BJP in 2014, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said the Modi government had turned Shastri’s famous ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogan into ‘Mar Jawan, Mar Kisan’ on his birth anniversary,” the report said.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted in support of the farmers.

“India’s agricultural GDP was roughly Rs 27 trillion in 2016; the numerous subsidies to agriculture came to about Rs 4.5 trillion, or a sixth of the agriculturists’ income. And then, Rs 3.4 trillion was taken away from them in the form of subsidies to consumers, mainly in the form of lower-than-market prices. This financial skulduggery required that domestic agriculture must be insulated from the international market by means of tariffs: agricultural tariffs averaged 32 per cent, about three times industrial tariffs. That was not enough; quantitative restrictions minimized imports and exports. The result was that agriculture, which would otherwise be internationally competitive, was prevented from prospering by exporting. And what is the point of this elaborate rigmarole? It keeps an army of politicians and bureaucrats busy, happy and rich. Democracy is an excellent system for administering a country, but our version of it is close to the worst,” reported The Telegraph.



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