Dilli Chalo: Farmers brave heavy rains, water canons, tears gas & blockades

"We are all ready to celebrate the birth anniversary of our Constitution at midnight on November 25th and 26th. We will fight, We will win!!"

Commemorating Constitution Day, thousands of farmer families from various states, including Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh are walking to Delhi as part of the “Dilli Chalo” campaign, despite heavy rains and facing police suppression. Early in the morning, the UP Police detained activists including Medha Patkar in the Rajasthan border. The borders in Punjab have, in particular, witnessed extreme police suppression and clashes.

DILLI CH

People from farming families of various age groups joined the protests, including elderly women and school going children. 

Repression Tactics

Late Wednesday evening, the Uttar Pradesh Police stopped a group of farm leaders and protestors from Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra at the Rajasthan border. The police stated later that they are at the first checkpoint of UP. They  too had set out as part of the Dilli Chalo campaign, but were prevented from moving any further at the UP border. 

The group was led by Medha Patkar and Pratibha Shinde of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and consisted of 152 protestors. It also included many activists and farmer leaders including Rahul Raj, Pratibha Shinde, Aradhana Bhargav, Kavita Srinivasan, Manish Srinivasan, Prahlad Bairagi and Medha Patkar among others. They spent the entire night sitting on the highway, surrounded by police officials. All India Kisan Sabha contingent of 250 protestors from Gwalior also joined them today morning. Many activists condemned the UP Police’s overnight detention.

Alongside the repressive UP Police and, Medha Patkar 

Medha Patkar stated regarding the matter:

This is illegal detention and the UP Police has no right to take any action aginst us when we are on the land belonging to Rajasthan.They have not conveyed to us any section of any law nor shown us any order.

We are not provided any food or water nor any other facility.Certainly this is unconstitutional and political move aginst our right to agitate and the farmers rights to life and livelihood.

We with women, youth, elders are committed to challenge repression as well as exploitation of farmers and labourers…Right now we are more than 100 representing a large number of organisations and are sure that our colleagues and supporters will raise the issue of civil liberty and human rights”.

Farmers Break Barricades in Ambala & Kurukshetra

Meanwhile, at the Shambhu interstate border near Ambala, the Haryana Police did not allow farmers to march towards Delhi and placed barricades along with an extensive police force to stop the Dilli Chalo movement. They used loudspeakers and asked farmers who assembled on the Punjab side to disperse. 

This led to major clashes between protestors and police. But the farmers marched forward using tractors and vehicles, and threatened to block all roads to Delhi if police do not let them pass. But the police responded with even more violent suppression tactics. They used tear gas and water canons in heavy force against the farmers. Nevertheless, the protestors carried forward with an intention to join the larger Dilli Chalo protests; they threw the barricades over the bridge and waved black flags and shouted slogans.

According to the Ambala DC Ashok, orders had come from higher up to not let the protestors pass. The Government also imposed Section 144 in the district.

 “It is condemnable that Haryana Police is using such measures to suppress an assembly of peaceful protesters. We are protesting in a peaceful manner, but they want to prevent us from using our democratic right to protest”. A farmer stated, according to PTI     

dilli chalo
Courtesy: Worker’s Unity

Similarly, in Kurkshetra too the police had set up barricades against the protestors in anticipation of the Dilli Chalo protests along NH-44 near Teora-Teori villages. The police used two water canons against the protestors as well, but they marched on despite the heavy showers.

Similarly, in the Khanori border too farmers marched forward after removing barricades.

Continued suppression of anti-farm bill protestors

Though BJP leaders such as Haryana CM Manohar Lal have been claiming that the Congress and Captain Amarinder Singh are “inciting” farmers, they have been punishing farmers for dissenting. Since October 24th, they imposed a “rail blockade”, essentially stripping farmers away from access to essential goods. Imposing sanctions and blockades is a common political tactic between hostile countries, especially if one is anti-capitalist. The Indian Union instituted this against Punjab.

Punjab ran out of coal stocks with the state having to buy power from the National Grid. Power was cut across the State for a few days. They also faced shortages for things like gunny bags, fertilisers. All of this would have a negative impact on farmers produce.

Now, in Delhi, metro services were also stopped in select stations. This may have been an attempt to reduce movement of people within Delhi, who might join the protests. Blocking metros is another tactic often used by countries to suppress dissent.

Despite these attempts, farmers have received massive support, especially in state of Punjab. Many Gurudwaras especially came out in support of them, and provided them with langar as most protestors did not have access to food or water, even when police were detaining them.

In the afternoon, the Haryana CM finally told the protestors that they can “resolve issues” as an effort to curb agitations.

 

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