Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), a Punjab-based farmers group that had demanded the release of suspects in both the Elgar Parishad case and the Delhi riots case, has announced a march to Delhi on April 21 in order to protest against the Farm laws. This march comes at a time when Delhi is going through a surge in Coronavirus cases, with testing facilities getting overwhelmed.
According to their statement, the farmer union leaders said apart from farmers, women, tribals, unemployed people and socially disadvantaged groups will also participate in the march.
Several other farmer groups are also doing preparations for a march to Delhi. Kul Hind Kisan Sabha, a farmer union, is organizing farmer meets at the village level in order to increase participation at the protest in Delhi.
“Rumours are being spread that farmers have started leaving the protest sites. Farmers have not lost hope and will leave their villages on April 21 after the harvest season is over. We will implement whatever directions will be issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha,” said Karmvir Kaur Mahewhwari, an activist of Kul Hind Kisan Sabha.
On Monday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) decided to launch the ‘Phir Delhi Chalo’ movement from April 24, marking 150 days since the start of the Farmer protests. The SKM is a joint forum of farm unions that spearheads the farmer’s protest.
According to SKM Member Ashish Mittal, as farmers were away for wheat harvesting, the focus of SKM would first be on calling them back. He also said that BKU (Ugrahan) had called upon its members to start reaching the Tikri border from April 21.
Amid rising Coronavirus cases, the Centre and Haryana government have urged farmers to vacate the protest sites, but protesting farmer union leaders have urged the opposite
“Now that the reaping season is over, we are asking farmers to return. Repeated requests from ministers asking us to move out are just a prelude to an effort at uprooting us,” said Yogendra Yadav, president of Jai Kisan Andolan.
Yogendra Yadav further alleges that the government is hatching a conspiracy in the garb of anti-Covid measures to quell their protest. “They used the same trick last year. We will not let it happen,” he said.
“We will spread awareness about health and hygiene protocols one needs to adopt in view of Covid-19. All our colleagues will be asked to wear masks,” added Yadav.
The farmer leaders also said that they will set up vaccination camps at all protest sites. Anyone above 45 years can walk in and get vaccinated, they say, in addition to ambulances being available.
Thousands of farmers are protesting mainly at three sites around Delhi– Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur, since late November. The protestors are mainly from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.