‘Delhi Chalo’: What All Happened on Day-2 of Farmers’ Protest

The marching farmers are being tear gassed and lathicharged at Punjab-Haryana border.
The marching farmers are being tear gassed at Punjab-Haryana border.
The marching farmers are being tear gassed at Punjab-Haryana border. Pic- Saumya Raj/The Mooknayak

New Delhi: “Sansad mein baith thum kisan ne noch khaage, Modiji thari top kade hum Dilli aage…(Sitting in Parliament, you have virtually destroyed us; Modiji, where are your cannons? We have Delhi now…).” 

Blaring songs of resistance and rebellion from their DJ-installed tractors, which are also modified to remove barricades, farmers from Punjab and Haryana are making all efforts to march to New Delhi as part of their call for ‘Delhi Chalo’ to press the Central government to address their “unfulfilled and long-standing” demands.

At least 250 farmer unions under the banner of the ‘Kisan Mazdoor Morcha’ and ‘Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Apolitical)’ began to march towards the national capital on February 13 after negotiations with the government failed to reach a consensus.

The marching farmers are being tear gassed at Punjab-Haryana border. The Shambhu border at Ambala in Haryana has virtually turned into a battlefield. Tear gas shells have been raining on farmers since yesterday from the ground to air. The police are using teargas drones at the Punjab and Haryana border.

Making around 15,000 boots on the ground to struggle, the farmers — visibly with firm determination and strong will power — are breaching barricade after barricades and forcibly removing concrete barriers while facing lathicharge, tear gassing and water cannons. 

The massive showdown took an ugly turn yesterday when the farmers began tossing barricades from a flyover and vandalising the safety barriers alongside the flyover. 

These were precautionary measures that were put in place by the Haryana police, which issued that anyone found vandalising public property will have to pay for it.

The farmers also say they are ready for a long haul and have come prepared with rations and supplies for the next six months. If the government thinks that it will stop them with tear gas and spraying water on them, they say, they are welcoming it. 

“We have all the time, let’s see how much force the government puts up against us,” one of the protesting farmers told The Mooknayak while running away from the tear gas shelling and attempting to cover his face to avoid skin irritation caused by it.

The farmers are using a certain kind of eye-drop in a bid to save their eyes from a potential damage that the tear gas can cause.  

Jin kisanon ne raat bhar jag kar faslen ugaain, un par raat raat bhar jaag kar sarkar aansu gas ke gole barsati rahi. Laanat hai aisi sarkar par (The government is tear gassing on the farmers who remained awake all night to grow crops. Shame on such a government),” retorted the other.

Gurmeet Singh, an ex-service is among the injured who are undergoing treatment at AP Jain Civil Hospital. He suffered injuries on one one of his eyelids and both hands after the police allegedly fired live bullets on agitating peasants on February 13. 

“I have served the Indian Army for 17 years. I know the protocols for dispersing a mob and where the shots should be fired at as a last resort,” he said, alleging that they (the police) began firing, targeting the head, without any warning.

Over 100 of farmers, according to protesters, have been injured. “Two persons were critically injured. One of them has been referred to Chandigarh,” they said. 

“We are not militants”, said Singh, “but farmers of the same nation”.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal of the BKU (Ekta Sidhupur), who is one among those who are leading the protest march to the national capital, when asked about the restrictions, barricades and police action, said if there is a democracy, everyone should have the right to express his/her views.

“The Constitution has given us the right to hold peaceful protests, which we are exercising that right only. We want to go to Delhi and put forward a few demands, which are not new. These all are the commitments that were made when we last held discussions with the government,” he said, adding that farmer unions time and again tried to bring the government's attention to its promises, but the incumbents “ignored and took the peasants for granted”. 

He said the situation has come to this stage because the government did not show it seriousness to address their long-pending demands.

The farmers also say they are ready for a long haul and have come prepared with rations and supplies for the next six months.
The farmers also say they are ready for a long haul and have come prepared with rations and supplies for the next six months.Pic- Saumya Raj/The Mooknayak

 Khod Marni Hai, Lathh Nahin

Amid the ongoing confrontation between the protesters and security forces, a video has emerged on the social media wherein a senior police officer, while briefing his subordinates, can be heard explaining as to how the protesters should be dealt with.

“‘Khod’ marni hai, lathh nahin marni hai; usse aapse during bani rahegi aur chot kam se kam lagegiAur ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police) ko hum practically kar ke bata dete denge ki yeh khod kya haiJaise Bharat mein jugad hai na, waise hi khod Haryana ki ek khoj hai,” Haryana’s Gohana Deputy Commissioner of Police Ravindra Tomar can be heard in the purported video asking the men in uniform.

[You don’t have to blow lathis fiercely, ensure that they suffer less injury to their bodies. I will practically explain to the ITBP men what ‘khod’ stands for. Similar to ‘jugaad’ (which is a makeshift arrangement), ‘khod’ is a discovery of Haryana.]

Khod maarna’ in local Haryana is a tactic in which lathi blows are done in such a way that the person who is being beaten up suffers less injuries, and it does not leave any injury mark on the body.

He made the statement in Haryana’s Kaithal city where he along with Karnal Range Inspector General of Police Satendra Gupta had come to take stock of the security arrangements made in view of the farmers’ march.

This is not the first time such an outrageous statement made by a government officer is making the rounds on the Internet. In 2021, Karnal’s then Sub Divisional Magistrate Ayush Sinha’s statement had gone viral. He was asking the police to break the head of anyone who violated the law and tried to breach barricades.

“No one will be allowed to go there (by cross barricades). I am making it clear to you: whosoever to breach the barricades, break his head. I am a duty magistrate, and I am giving you this order in writing. Koi doubt nahin hona chahiye, kisi direction ki zarurat nahin hai (There should be any doubt; no direction for the same is needed),” he told the cops — while directing them to sternly stop the farmers three years ago.

Only the year changed, but not the attitude of such officers.

When asked about the statement and continued police action, a senior IPS officer in the Haryana Police said, “The farmers are resorting to stone pelting, damaging public properties and breaching barricades in order to march towards Delhi. And therefore, security forces in return are resorting to lathicharge, water cannon and tear gas shells firing to disperse and push them back. There is no choice as there is a law and order situation at hand. And the farmers have to be stopped from marching to Delhi.” 

Pic- Saumya Raj/The Mooknayak

‘Neither Farmers, Nor is Delhi Far From Us’

Making it clear that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha — an umbrella body of several farmer unions that had led the siege at Delhi borders in 2020-21 against three controversial farm laws, even though is not taking part in the ongoing march, won’t even give a second thought to take a plunge in the ongoing protest if the farmers are “brutalised” by the state. 

“Everyone in this country has the right to express their opinion. The farmers who are protesting must be listened to. Two rounds of meetings were held (in Chandigarh) but no solution was found. The government should talk to them once again,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait.

He said they have had 14 rounds of talks in 13 months of their protest back in 2020-21, the government should talk about this too. “These farmers are also raising the same issues as the SKM has been raising all through the years,” he said. 

The police and the government — he alleged — are committing atrocities against the protesting farmers by erecting walls on their way, trying to stop them by force, scaring people by making announcements in villages and arresting them. 

“We are all together. Neither the farmers are far from us nor we are far from Delhi. We all have eyes on what is happening. We are with the farmers. If the government indulges in provocations and uses force against them, we will not give a second thought and join the movement,” he threatened.

Over 100 of farmers, according to protesters, have been injured.
Over 100 of farmers, according to protesters, have been injured.Pic- Saumya Raj/The Mooknayak

‘Don’t Treat Farmers Like They’re Criminals’

Dr Madhura Swaminathan, daughter of noted agronomist and agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, who will be posthumously conferred upon with the ‘Bharat Ratna’, has urged the government not to treat farmers as criminals.

“The farmers from Punjab and Haryana are marching towards Delhi. As reported by newspapers, jails are being prepared for them in Haryana. There are barricades and different efforts to prevent them from marching ahead. They are farmers, not criminals. We will have to talk to the ‘annadata’; we cannot treat them as criminals,” she said in an emotional appeal during a celebration of the highest civilian award being awarded to his father.

Stressing on the need to hold a dialogue, she said, “We have to find solutions. If we want to honour MS Swaminathan, we have to take farmers with us in whatever strategy we are making for the future.”

‘Resolve the Issue Amicably’

The matter has now reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Two public interest litigations (PILs) in the court are seeking a direction to stay all instructive actions by the government against the farmers’ protest.

The petitions say that sealing the borders and suspension of internet services not only violate farmers' right to protest but is also causing great inconvenience to citizens.

Hearing the PILs, the court observed the issue should be resolved amicably, and use of force should be the last resort.

A division bench of Chief Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji said, “The people who are protesting also have fundamental rights, and it is the duty of state governments to protect their rights and also ensure that they do not face any kind of trouble.”

It observed there must be a balance between the rights of free speech and expression. 

“No right is absolute and can be seen in isolation. Both farmers and common people have their rights,” it observed, stressing on the need to resolve the issues — keeping “peace and harmony” in mind. 

“Both sides should sit together and find a solution,” said the high court, also directing the states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to provide the farmers a place to protest.

Tremors in Delhi 

The tremors of the farmers’ agitation are also being felt in Delhi with blockades and travel restrictions at its borders. The city too is bracing for farmers’ fury. Two years ago, the siege of the peasants had forced the mighty government to take back three farm laws.

Chaos unfolded in the national capital when the farmers began their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. The Delhi Police is back in action with a long list of restrictions. Section 144 is in place across the city.

At Delhi borders, hundreds of yellow barricades, concrete walls, cement barriers, nails and crain are awaiting farmers. Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri borders (where farmers sat for over a year demanding scrapping of the three farm laws) have been sealed again.

There is a ban on entry of tractors, trolleys, buses and trucks into the city. The Delhi Police have imposed prohibitory orders, saying there is imminent risk of widespread tensions, social unrest and potential for violence on account of this protest.

Why are Farmers Up In Arms Again?

They want a law that guarantees MSP for all crops across the country. At present, the government gives MSP for about 23-24 crops, including wheat and paddy.

They also want a pension of Rs 10,000 for all farmers above the age of 60. Their charter of demands includes a debt waiver. 

The farmers say that the government made a commitment to give them a legal guarantee for MSP but failed to fulfill it because of “pressure from corporates”.

They demand withdrawal of police cases lodged against them during their previous protest in 2020-21. They are seeking justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. 

The government had sent three Cabinet ministers (Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai) to Chandigarh to negotiate with the farmers and try to convince them to call off their march.

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