Farmers at Haryana border to boycott PM Modi’s radio speech

Farmers at the Haryana border will boycott Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation through his radio programme “Mann Ki Baat” on Sunday. The farmers who have gathered at Jaisinghpur Khera, located near Shahjahanpur in Alwar district, at the Rajasthan-Haryana border said that they will beat utensils during the PM’s address. They urged people across the country to do the same in support of their demands.

Meanwhile, the standoff at the border continued and situation remained tense throughout Saturday as the number of protesters continued to rise. Apart from a large deployment of police, RAF and CISF personnel, the authorities placed large concrete pillars, container boxes, jersey barriers, dumpers and earthmoving machines on both carriageways of the Delhi-Jaipur highway to prevent the protesting farmers from entering Haryana forcibly. The road blockade, however, created traffic congestion as vehicles from Delhi to Jaipur was diverted on Friday afternoon. Hundreds of trucks and large containers could be seen being stranded on the highway due to the blockade.

The situation is unlikely to change soon as farmer leaders said that number of protesters is increasing daily and farmers from Rajasthan, Haryana and even those from Maharashtra are joining their ranks. “This agitation has become a peoples’ movement and, on Sunday, we have appealed to farmers across the country and those at the protesting sites to beat utensils during the PM’s Mann ki Baat”, said Dr Sanajay Madhav, state convenor, Akhil Bhartiya Kissan Samanvya Samiti — the umbrella organisation of farm protesters.

The organisation later in the evening said that the farmers have agreed to discuss their demands with the government on December 29.

Amra Ram, vice president, Akhil Bhartiya Kissan Sabha, said that protest is gathering strength every day and people will not move from these sites till all the three farm laws are repealed. “Initially the protest started with 50 people and now more than 20,000 people are camping at the border to protest against the government,” he said, adding that, on Sunday, they will send a strong message to the ruling party by beating utensils.

A group of farmers from Maharashtra led by Kishan Gujjar, who heads the Maharashtra Kissan Sabha, said that over 1,200 people have come from Nasik and more are on their way. “We are here for the long haul. It may be recalled that farmers from Maharashtra had forced the previous BJP government to bow to their demands,” said Gujjar.

Pointing to the expanding footprint of the protest, a participant from Hanumangarh in Rajasthan said that the protest site has spread over 2 kilometres over the last few days. “Farmers are vehemently opposed to these laws. Why has the Haryana government called in so much police as we want to enter Delhi peacefully,” asked Mangal Singh, a farmer from Hanuman Garh.

The police, meanwhile, remained alert throughout the day, as they had expected that a senior Rajasthan farmer leader, Hanuman Beniwal, who had gathered a large number of followers, would reach the protest site and try to breach the barricade. “We are not taking any chances and the police is alert to prevent any movement of protesters,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Abhishek Jorwal,superintendent of police, Rewari, said that farmers are still at the site. Traffic is being diverted for safety and security. “Earlier, one side of the carriageway was blocked but since Friday both sides have been blocked as the protestors were trying to cross the border.”

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