New Delhi: Farmers protesting the three contentious farm laws will start holding a stir at Jantar Mantar from Thursday under heavy security with Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal giving special permission for demonstrations by a maximum of 200 peasants till August 9.
A group of 200 farmers will travel to Jantar Mantar from the Singhu border in buses with a police escort and hold protests there from 11 am to 5 pm, sources in the Delhi Police said.
They said the Samkyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ union which has been spearheading the protest against the farm laws, has been asked to give an undertaking that all COVID-19 norms would be followed and the stir would be peaceful.
Although the SKM said that their protest at the Jantar Mantar will continue till the end if the Monsoon Session of Parliament on August 13, the L-G has given permission for protest till August 9.
This is the first time since the violence in the national capital during a tractor rally on January 26 that the authorities have granted permission to protesting farmer unions to hold a protest in the city.
According to an order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), L-G Anil Baijal, who is also DDMA’s chairperson, has given approval for a staggered protest at Jantar Mantar by a maximum of 200 farmers every day from Thursday to August 9 between 11 am to 5 pm.
“They would be conveyed by designated buses and six members of one separate group by a designated SUV on a given route under police escort subject to strict observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour (wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, regular hand washing and use of sanitiser etc.) and compliance of all other guidelines/ instructions/SOPs issued by Government of India and Government of NCT of Delhi from time to time in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the order said.
Adequate security arrangements will be made at the Jantar Mantar, sources said.
Gathering for protests is currently not allowed in the national capital, under a DDMA order.
Thousands of farmers from across the country have been agitating at three Delhi border points – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur – against the three farm laws that they claim will do away with the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
Over ten rounds of talks with the government, which has been projecting the laws at major agricultural reforms, have failed to break the deadlock between the two parties.
The SKM had initially proposed that the protesting farmers will hold a ‘Kisan Parliament’ at Jantar Mantar every day, a few metres from Parliament.
After a meeting with Delhi Police officials on Tuesday, a farm union leader said they will hold peaceful demonstrations at Jantar Mantar demanding scrapping of the agricultural laws and no protester will go to Parliament.
“We will hold ‘Kisan Parliament’ from July 22 till the monsoon session ends and 200 protesters will go to Jantar Mantar every day. One speaker and one deputy speaker will be chosen every day.
“In the first two days, there will be a discussion over the APMC Act. Later, the other Bills will also be discussed every two days,” a leader had said.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh national president Shiv Kumar Kakka on Tuesday told PTI that farmers, wearing identification badges, will go to Jantar Mantar from the Singhu border to hold the protest.
“We informed the police that every day 200 farmers will go to Jantar Mantar from the Singhu border in buses during the monsoon session. It will be a peaceful demonstration and protesters will have identification badges.
“When police asked us to reduce the number of protesters, we told them to focus on the law-and-order situation and also gave assurance that the protest will be peaceful,” Kakka had said.
A tractor parade in Delhi on January 26, that was to highlight the demands of farmer unions to repeal three agriculture laws, was met with barricades, lathi charge and tear gas in several places on Republic Day, escalating into clashes at the Red Fort, Kashmere Gate and ITO and the death of a farmer.