Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government has given permission to farmer groups to hold a Kisan Sansad — farmers’ parliament — tomorrow at Jantar Mantar but following the Covid protocol, sources said today. The protesters plan to first march in groups of 200 every day from the national capital’s Singhu border point towards Parliament. The police will then escort them to the venue to carry on their agitation.
To facilitate the protest, the state government is making changes to its order imposing Covid restrictions under the Delhi Disaster Management Act (DDMA), sources have said. The DDMA guidelines do not allow any gatherings otherwise.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of farmer unions from across the country formed in November 2020, today brainstormed the strategy for the Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar beginning tomorrow.
It has been decided that tomorrow the protesting farmers will go to the Parliament House Complex in four buses that will leave the SKM’s office in Singhu.
The Kisan Sansad will be held till August 13, when Parliament’s monsoon session ends, SKM member Dr Darshan Pal said.
“Everything will be like Parliament. There will be a Speaker, a Deputy Speaker, a tea break etc. This Parliament will surely take place,” said Manjit Singh Rai, a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Doaba).
The participating farmers will be provided with identity papers. If the police stop them, they have decided to submit themselves to arrest and offer no resistance.
“We have asked farmers to prepare themselves to be jailed for up to six months. Despite that, there is eagerness among them to go for the march,” said Raminder Patiala of SKM.
Arrangements have been made by the police to settle the protesters peacefully at Jantar Mantar. Personnel of both the Delhi police and paramilitary forces will be deployed to maintain law and order.
The protesters will then return at around 5pm from Jantar Mantar.
“Two batches of farmers have left Kerala for Delhi to join the Parliament protests. Similarly, contingents of farmers are reaching from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and other distant states, too,” an SKM release said today.
“In Sirsa, the indefinite hunger fast of Sardar Baldev Singh Sirsa entered Day 4 today. Protestors, as announced beforehand, blocked the highway at three different points for two hours this morning.”
At Singhu, meanwhile, the police have used cement and concertina to ensure no untoward incidents take place. This indicates moves to avoid a repeat of the January 26 violence in Delhi following a farmers’ tractor rally.
The farmers had earlier said that they will not surrounding Parliament in protest.
The unions had earlier met Police officials at the Mantram resort near the Singhu border to seek permission for the Kisan Sansad.
The officials had at first suggested alternative venues for the protest. The police have also written to the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation to keep extra vigil at seven metro stations and close them if needed.
Farmers have been protesting since last November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Their leaders and the Centre have held several rounds of talks but the impasse remains.