Delhi Chalo call stands, further details on 3 March: farmer leaders

Leaders say they will wait until after a prayer meeting for Shubhkaran Singh, who died during clashes with Haryana security personnel

Farmer leaders at the press conference in Shambhu (photo: PTI)
Farmer leaders at the press conference in Shambhu (photo: PTI)


Farmer leaders on Friday asserted that their 'Delhi Chalo' agitation will continue until farmers' demands are met, saying they will announce their next course of action on 3 March after a prayer meeting for Shubhkaran Singh, a 21-year-old farmer who died during clashes with Haryana security personnel in Khanauri.

They said the existing morchas (groups) of farmers at Shambhu and Khanauri on the Punjab-Haryana border will be strengthened and farmers will also hold a sit-in protest in Dabwali in support of their demands.

Speaking to reporters at Shambhu, farmer leaders Manjeet Singh Rai and Jaswinder Singh Longowal said the next announcement will be made after the final prayers in Shubhkaran's village Balloh in Bathinda district. Shubhkaran was killed and 12 police personnel injured in clashes at the Khanauri border point on 21 February.

Replying to a question on the farmers' Delhi Chalo call, Longowal said it still stands. He also hit out at the Centre and the Haryana government for using "oppressive methods" against farmers holding a peaceful protest. "It is not just the question of using teargas or a mild lathi-charge... we have seen them use toxic gases, and everyone knows how we lost Shubhkaran," Longowal said.

"In a democracy, is it justified that bullets are fired...? Our agitation will continue. It will head to victory. At the same time, one thing is clear, we have to save our children from bullets," the farmer leader said.

Earlier in the day, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the government was not paying attention to farmers' demands as the ruling party's sole focus was on winning the Lok Sabha elections ahead. The government should give a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops and meet other demands of protesting farmers, he added.

"Rather than paying attention to farmers, they are focused on how to win the elections," Pandher said, asserting that the farmers' agitation will continue until their demands are met.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading the Delhi Chalo march, which was put on hold for two days after Shubhkaran was killed. Two days later, farmer leaders said the protesters would continue to camp at Khanauri and Shambhu until 29 February.

Pandher said a meeting to pay tributes to Shubhkaran will be held by the SKM (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha at Balloh on 3 March. Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will attend it in large numbers, he added. Shubhkaran's body was taken to Balloh for his last rites on Thursday.

The farmers protesting to press the Centre for their various demands are staying put at the two protest sites on the border. The farmer leaders had earlier said they would not end their agitation until their demands were met, indicating that their stir might continue even if the model code of conduct for the elections comes into force.

Previously, the leaders had rejected the BJP-led Centre's proposal for procuring pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP by government agencies for five years, saying it was not in favour of the farmers.

The Punjab farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

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