Farmers end yatra after a day of clashes

Farmers end yatra after a day of clashes


A day after farmers from Western UP under the banner of Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) agitating against the ban on 10-year-old diesel vehicles and for a hike in minimum price for rabi crops, clashed with the police at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, they declared they were ending their 10-day Kisan Kranti Yatra at Kisan Ghat in Delhi.

The farmers were allowed to enter the city only at midnight after several rounds of negotiations and after a series of efforts had failed. Simmering problems agitating the sector had resulted in thousands of farmers clashing with the police on the Delhi-UP border while attempting to force their way into the capital for the rally at Charan Singh's samadhi.

The police used tear gas shells and water cannons to prevent them from ramming their tractor-trailers into barricades at the Ghazipur crossing. Vehicular traffic on the busy Delhi-Meerut Expressway remained paralysed.

The police action attracted criticism, with Opposition parties, led by the Congress, saying the farmers were on their way to raise genuine grievances, but were subjected to harsh measures.

Under the BKU banner farmers had started arriving at the entry point to Delhi since Monday evening and the next morning, the police blocked them from proceeding towards Rajghat, the proposed site of protest.

The BKU later said the Centre had assured it would file a review petition against the National Green Tribunal order banning diesel vehicles and include farmers in the committee formed by UP for linking MNREGA to farm work. They also sought budget announcement of cost-plus 50 per cent minimum support price for rabi crops, firm measures for procurement and advising states to ensure fair prices for farm produce.

They also called for an early meeting of the GST Council to fix 5 per cent tax for all products used for agriculture and a law to prevent import of crops produced in surplus. The Delhi Police denied having resorting to any lathi-charge, saying seven constables were got injured while trying to control farmers who insisted on entering on tractor-trailers, that are banned in the city.

The present rally recalled the marches that used to take place during Mahendra Singh Tikait's time that used to be a regular feature disrupting life in the Capital, and was brought to an end during the Mayawati regime in UP.